394 No evidence that breathing exercises effective for dysfunctional breathing/hyperventilation syndrome

July 24, 2013

PEARLS 394, June, 2013, written by Brian R McAvoy

Clinical Question
How effective are breathing exercises for dysfunctional breathing/hyperventilation syndrome (DB/HVS) in adults?

Bottom Line
The results of this systematic review are unable to inform clinical practice, based on the inclusion of only one small, poorly reported trial which compared relaxation therapy (RT) versus RT and breathing exercises and a no therapy control group. There was no credible evidence regarding the effectiveness of breathing exercises for the clinical symptoms of DB/HVS.

It is currently unknown whether these interventions offered any added value in this patient group or whether specific types of breathing exercise demonstrated superiority over others.

Quality of life was not an outcome measure in this single trial involving 45 patients, and no numerical data or statistical analysis was presented. No information could be extracted from the paper regarding the size of the treatment effects.

DB/HVS is a breathing problem that involves breathing too deeply and/or too rapidly. There are many possible causes of DB/HVS and if left untreated it can lead to a variety of unpleasant symptoms, such as breathlessness, dizziness, tremor, paraesthesia and chest pain. DB/HVS has an estimated prevalence of 9.5% in the general adult population.

There is little consensus regarding the most effective management of this patient group.

Cochrane Systematic Review

Jones M et al. Breathing exercises for dysfunctional breathing/ hyperventilation syndrome in adults. Cochrane Reviews, 2013, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD009041.DOI: 10.1002/14651858.
This review contains one study involving 45 participants.

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.