11 Studies Shortness of breath and Diseases

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The relationship between diseases and shortness of breath. Does one create the other and can you change your breathing and effect diseases. You will be blown away by the studies and the research.

Dyspnea- shortness of breath.

What is the average breathing rate in dyspnea patients? The average breathing rate of 35 patients with cancer was 28.4 breaths per minute according to US medical doctors at the Massey Cancer Center (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA). (Coyne and al., 2002). In 1993, Bruera et. al. conducted a study on terminal cancer patients suffering from dyspnea. They found that their respiratory rate was around 23 breaths per minute. In 1999, a Swiss study at the University Hospital Lausanne’s Division of Palliative Care found that elderly patients with advanced cancer took 26 breaths per hour.

Two recent German studies (Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine, Bonn) showed that the average breathing rate in two groups of patients with cancer was astonishingly high at 42 and 39 breaths per minutes (Clemens et. al, 2007; Clemens et. al, 2008). These are quite shocking physiological numbers, as the average respiratory frequency is 12 breaths per minute. According to old medical textbooks, the normal respiratory frequency is 8-10 breaths per minutes.

We found that the average adult breathing rate is 12 breaths/min, while Dr. Buteyko’s norm for normal breathing is 8 breaths/minute (see Parameters of Normal Airflow or Buteyko Table of Healthy Zones). Here are the respiratory rates for people with cancer.

It is clear that patients with cancer breathe more than either the norms. Numerous studies have shown that the respiratory rate (or breathing frequency) of patients with cancer is an independent predictor for their mortality. (Chiang and colleagues, 2009; Groeger and colleagues, 1998; de Miguel Sanchez and colleagues, 2006). Cancer patients who are able to breathe faster or more often have a higher mortality rate and a poorer prognosis. This link between slow spontaneous breathing and greater survival chances applies to all cancer patients, with or without dyspnea.

Conclusion. Patients with cancer: The faster they breathe, they die sooner.

The Journal of Applied Physiology published a 2008 study by Travers et. al., Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. It was found that patients who had been diagnosed with cancer emitted around 12 liters per minute at rest as opposed to the medical norm of 6 l/min. These cancer patients averaged 20 breaths per hour, whereas the norm is 12 at rest. These cancer patients had a higher tidal volume (600 ml per one-breath) than the norm (525 ml). These cancer patients were able to breathe both fast and deeply, as opposed to the medical norms.

Normal breathing, which is slow and subtle in frequency and small in volume, is also invisible and unaudible. What about the visual breathing parameters for cancer patients? What do doctors see? Heavy breathing, almost gasping for breath.

It is clear from the overwhelming evidence of medical professionals that terminal cancer patients have severe breathing problems. (We will learn more about the devastating effects of severe cell hypoxia on the immune system as a result of free radicals and other oxidative damage later.

Normal breathing is invisible, imperceptible and inaudible as we have discussed. According to physiological laws normal breathing provides superior tissue oxygenation. Healthy people don’t feel their breath. Cancer patients are unable to control their breathing and must breathe at least 3-4x the normal amount.

Dyspnea references

Reuben DB, Mor V, Dyspnea in terminally ill cancer patients, Chest 1986; 89: p. 234–236.

Dudgeon DJ, Lertzman M, Dyspnea in the advanced cancer patient, J Pain Symptom Management 1998 Oct; 16(4): p.212–219.

Bruera E, MacEachern T, Ripamonti C, Hanson J, Subcutaneous morphine for dyspnea in cancer patients, Ann Intern Med. 1993; 119: p. 906–907.

Travers J, Dudgeon DJ, Amjadi K, McBride I, Dillon K, Laveneziana P, Ofir D, Webb KA, O’Donnell DE, Mechanisms of exertional dyspnea in patients with cancer, J Appl Physiol 2008 Jan; 104(1): p.57–66.

References for the cancer respiratory rate chart

Chiang JK, Lai NS, Wang MH, Chen SC, Kao YH, A proposed prognostic 7-day survival formula for patients with terminal cancer, BMC Public Health. 2009 Sep 29; 9(1): p.365.

Clemens KE, Klaschik E, Effect of hydromorphone on ventilation in palliative care patients with dyspnea, Support Care Cancer. 2008 Jan; 16(1): p.93–99. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Clemens KE, Klaschik E, Symptomatic therapy of dyspnea with strong opioids and its effect on ventilation in palliative care patients, J Pain Symptom Management 2007 Apr; 33(4): p.473–481.

Coyne PJ, Viswanathan R, Smith TJ, Nebulized Fentanyl Citrate Improves Patients’ Perception of Breathing, Respiratory Rate, and Oxygen Saturation in Dyspnea, J Pain Symptom Manage 2002; 23: p.157–160.

de Miguel Sanchez C, Elustondo SG, Estirado A, Sanchez FV, de la Rasilla Cooper CG, Romero AL, Otero A, Olmos LG, Palliative Performance Status, Heart Rate and Respiratory Rate as Predictive Factors of Survival Time in Terminally Ill Cancer Patients, J Pain Symptom Managem. June 2006; 31(6), p. 485–492.

Groeger JS, Lemeshow S, Price K, Nierman DM, White P Jr, Klar J, Granovsky S, Horak D, Kish SK, Multicenter outcome study of cancer patients admitted to the intensive care unit: a probability of mortality model, J Clin Oncol. 1998 Feb; 16(2): p.761–770.

Mazzocato C, Buclin T, Rapin CH, The effects of morphine on dyspnea and ventilatory function in elderly patients with advanced cancer: a randomized double-blind controlled trial, Annals of Oncology. 1999 Dec; 10(12): p.1511–1514.

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