Activation of the prefrontal cortex is associated with exertional dyspnea in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
ABSTRACT Exertional dyspnea is the primary symptom that limits exercise in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is unknown which activated brain area is associated with this symptom in COPD patients.
To investigate the activation of cortical areas associated with dyspnea during exercise in COPD patients.
COPD patients (n = 10) and age-matched controls (n = 10) performed mild-intensity constant work rate cycle exercise (40% of their symptom-limited peak work rates) for 10 min, while cerebral hemodynamics and oxygenation were measured by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Ventilatory responses (breathing pattern and pulmonary gas exchange) and Borg scale ratings of dyspnea and leg fatigue were measured during exercise. Three NIRS probes were placed over the prefrontal and temporoparietal cortical regions of the subjects' heads. Changes in cortical oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb), deoxyhemoglobin (deoxy-Hb), and total hemoglobin (total Hb) concentrations from baseline recordings were measured. Increased oxy-Hb (oxygenation) was assumed to reflect cortical activation.
Oxy-Hb concentration was significantly increased in the prefrontal region during exercise in both groups but not in the temporoparietal regions. The change in prefrontal oxy-Hb concentration of COPD patients was not different from that of controls. Dyspnea scores were positively correlated with changes in oxy-Hb concentrations of the prefrontal regions in both groups. Multivariate analysis showed that oxy-Hb concentration in the prefrontal region was the best predictor of dyspnea in both groups.
Exertional dyspnea was related to activation (oxygenation) of the prefrontal cortex in COPD patients and control subjects.
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ABSTRACT: Dyspnea is a complex, prevalent, and distressing symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated with decreased quality of life, significant disability, and increased mortality. It is a major reason for referral to pulmonary rehabilitation. We reviewed 23 COPD studies to examine the evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral strategies for relieving dyspnea in COPD. Preliminary evidence from randomized controlled trials exists to support cognitive- behavioral strategies, used with or without exercise, for relieving sensory and affective components of dyspnea in COPD. Small to moderate treatment effects for relieving dyspnea were noted for psychotherapy (effect size [ES] = 0.08-0.25 for intensity; 0.26-0.65 for mastery) and distractive auditory stimuli (ES = 0.08-0.33 for intensity; 0.09 to -0.61 for functional burden). Small to large dyspnea improvements resulted from yoga (ES = 0.2-1.21 for intensity; 0.67 for distress; 0.07 for mastery; and -8.37 for functional burden); dyspnea self-management education with exercise (ES = -0.14 to -1.15 for intensity; -0.62 to -0.69 for distress; 1.04 for mastery; 0.14-0.35 for self-efficacy); and slow-breathing exercises (ES = -0.34 to -0.83 for intensity; -0.61 to -0.80 for distress; and 0.62 for self-efficacy). Cognitive-behavioral interventions may relieve dyspnea in COPD by (1) decreasing sympathetic nerve activity, dynamic hyperinflation, and comorbid anxiety, and (2) promoting arterial oxygen saturation, myelinated vagus nerve activity, a greater exercise training effect, and neuroplasticity. While evidence is increasing, additional randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of psychosocial and self-management interventions in relieving dyspnea, in order to make them more available to patients and to endorse them in official COPD, dyspnea, and pulmonary rehabilitation practice guidelines. By relieving dyspnea and related anxiety, such interventions may promote adherence to exercise programs and adaptive lifestyle change.International Journal of COPD 01/2013; 8:439-451.