Responses to progressive exercise in subjects with chronic dyspnea and inspiratory muscle weakness.

Berton DC;  Gass R; Feldmann B; Plachi F; Hutten D; Mendes NBS; Schroeder E; Balzan FM; Peyré-Tartaruga LA; Gazzana MB;

The clinical respiratory journal [Clin Respir J] 2021 Jan; Vol. 15 (1), pp. 26-35. Date of Electronic Publication: 2020 Sep 15.

Introduction: Inspiratory muscle weakness (IMW) is a potential cause of exertional dyspnea frequently under-appreciated in clinical practice. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is usually requested as part of the work-up for unexplained breathlessness, but the specific pattern of exercise responses ascribed to IMW is insufficiently characterized.
Objectives: To identify the physiological and sensorial responses to progressive exercise in dyspneic patients with IMW without concomitant cardiorespiratory or neuromuscular diseases.
Methods: Twenty-three subjects (18 females, 55.2 ± 16.9 years) complaining of chronic daily life dyspnea (mMRC = 3 [2-3]) plus maximal inspiratory pressure < the lower limit of normal and 12 matched controls performed incremental cycling CPET. FEV 1 /FVC<0.7, significant abnormalities in chest CT or echocardiography, and/or an established diagnosis of neuromuscular disease were among the exclusion criteria.
Results and Conclusion: Patients presented with reduced aerobic capacity (peak V̇O 2 : 79 ± 26 vs 116 ± 21 %predicted), a tachypneic breathing pattern (peak breathing frequency/tidal volume = 38.4 ± 22.7 vs 21.7 ± 14.2 breaths/min/L) and exercise-induced inspiratory capacity reduction (-0.17 ± 0.33 vs 0.10 ± 0.30 L) (all P < .05) compared to controls. In addition, higher ventilatory response (ΔV̇ E /ΔV̇CO 2 = 34.1 ± 6.7 vs 27.0 ± 2.3 L/L) and symptomatic burden (dyspnea and leg discomfort) to the imposed workload were observed in patients. Of note, pulse oximetry was similar between groups. Reduced aerobic capacity in the context of a tachypneic breathing pattern, inspiratory capacity reduction and preserved oxygen exchange during progressive exercise should raise the suspicion of inspiratory muscle weakness in subjects with otherwise unexplained breathlessness.