Mechanisms of dyspnoea and its language in patients with asthma

P. Laveneziana, P. Lotti, C. Coli, B. Binazzi, L. Chiti, L. Stendardi, R. Duranti, G. Scano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study hypothesises that regardless of the global score of dyspnoea intensity, different descriptors may be selected by asthmatic patients during short cardiopulmonary exercise test (sCPET) and methacholine (Mch) inhalation. It also examines whether different qualitative dyspnoea sensations can help explain the underlying mechanisms of the symptom. Minute ventilation (V′ E), tidal volume (VT) and inspiratory capacity (IC) were measured in 22 stable asthmatic patients, and the sensation of dyspnoea during Mch inhalation and sCPET was quantitatively (Borg scale) and qualitatively (descriptors) assessed. The work rate and oxygen uptake (V′ O2) were also measured during sCPET. Airway obstruction and hyperinflation, as measured by IC reduction, were the best correlates for dyspnoea with Mch. During sCPET, changes in WR, V′ O2, V′ E and VT significantly correlated with Borg score, with V′ E being the best predictor of dyspnoea; IC decreased in eight patients. Furthermore, chest tightness (68%) was the highest reported descriptor during Mch inhalation, whereas work/effort (72%) was the highest during sCPET. In conclusion, obstruction/hyperinflation and work rate are highly reliable predictors of Borg rating of dyspnoea during methacholine inhalation and short cardiopulmonary exercise testing, respectively. Regardless of the global score of intensity dyspnoea, different descriptors may be selected by patients during short cardiopulmonary exercise testing and methacholine inhalation. Various qualities of dyspnoea result from different pathophysiological abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-747
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Airway
  • Asthma
  • Dyspnoea
  • Exercise
  • Hyperinflation
  • Methacholine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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