An alternative breathing therapy has been found to improve shortness of breath, chest pain and anxiety in patients at a NHS chest clinic.
Patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic hyperventilation syndrome were taught Buteyko breathing therapy, a method devised by a Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko.
The pilot study was carried out by a respiratory physiotherapist and an asthma nurse, who were also trained Buteyko therapists, at chest clinics at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust.
The breathing exercise programme was taught to a group of 31 patients during five once-a-week hourly sessions. It involved managing symptoms of breathlessness by a series of exercises that included reducing breathing, breath-holding and relaxation.
At the end of the study, published in The Airways Journal, 27 patients reported an improvement in their condition particularly in shortness of breath, breathing rate, chest pain and anxiety.
The patients were able to hold their breath for longer, which indicates better control of breathlessness and often leads to a reduction in the need for medication.
The team, which intends to carry out further research, concluded that Buteyko breathing therapy helps patients with their symptoms, and can be provided on the NHS.
These finding are in line with an informal survey of 18 physiotherapists, trained in the Buteyko method. Two-thirds found the method very useful in treating patients with asthma and for reducing symptoms in COPD, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and bronchiectesis.
Notes to editors
The study was published in The Airways Journal (AIRWAYS J; 2006 4(4): 217-9)
Buteyko was developed in the 1950s by a Russian doctor called Dr Konstantin Buteyko, from whom the technique gets its name.
The results of five scientific trials have shown that asthma sufferers are able to significantly reduce their need for asthma medication after being taught Buteyko breathing therapy.
The Buteyko Breathing Association is a non-profit-making organisation that regulates the practice of practitioners through a code of conduct.
For more information about the Buteyko method and the association please go to www.buteykobreathing.org or contact BBA media officers Bruce Large on 01522 684682 or Kathryn Godfrey on 0207 254 5638