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Dynamic hyperinflation (DH) during exercise or physical activity is a major cause of dyspnea in COPD patients which progressively increasing severity with time during exercise. This leads to exercise intolerance and poor physical activity. Previous studies reveal that breathing with positive expiratory pressure (PEP) can reduce dyspnea at rest and breathing with Conical-PEP device (C-PEP) during exercise can increase exercise endurance. However, the device is not practical to be used during exercise with mobility and daily life. We, therefore, has developed a new PEP device, C-PEP mask, and aimed to evaluate the effects of breathing with C-PEP mask during exercise on exercise tolerance exertional dyspnea and cardiorespiratory function in moderate to severe COPD patients. A randomized cross-over trial was conducted in 9 COPD participants with an average age of 67.3 ± 3.9 years. The participants performed Spot Marching exercise test at the average speed of 90±15 step/min with (C-PEP) and without C-PEP mask (control) until symptom limited by severe dyspnea or heart rate (HR) reaching 80%HRmax. Exercise duration was recorded. Dyspnea HR, respiratory rate (RR), end tidal carbondioxide pressure (PETCO2), pulse oxygen saturation (SpO2), arrhythmia and blood pressure were examined at pre- , during, immediate post and 10 minute of recovery except BP was not measured during exercise. The results showed that the participants could exercise 4 minutes longer in C-PEP than Control (12.2 ± 5.8 v.s 8.3 ± 2.1 minutes; p< 0.05) whilst they stopped the exercise at similar levels of dyspnea and HR (80% HRmax) in both conditions (RPB 4.6 ± 2.7/10 vs 4.1 ± 1.8 /10unit and HR at 106.2 ± 8.4 vs 108.5 ± 11.7 bpm (in C-PEP and control condition respectively) RR was slower in C-PEP than Control during the exercise (AUC median IQR 25-75 in CPEP vs Control respectively p= 0.26) At the end of exercise, RR slower and VT greater in C-PEP vs Control (24.0±6.0 vs 28.0± 3.0breaths/min and 1017.8±189.0 vs 974.4±279.1 ml respectively p = 0.42). No arrhythmia was observed and PETCO2 and SpO2 were normal during exercise in both conditions. RR returned to rest in C-PEP but not in Control and HR and BP were still higher than resting in both conditions at the end of the 10 min recovery period. We conclude that using a C-PEP mask during exercise is safe, reduces exertional dyspnea increases exercise tolerance and promotes recovery of lung function in COPD. Therefore, C-PEP mask could be used during exercise training in pulmonary rehabilitation and physical activity in moderate to severe COPD.
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