Aim: We assessed the long-term benefits of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on inspiratory muscle strength, exercise capacity, the perception of dyspnea, quality of life, primary care use, and hospitalizations in patients with significant COPD.
Patients: Forty-two consecutive COPD patients with FEV1 < 50% of predicted were randomized into a group that received IMT for 1 year, and a control group that received training with a very low load.
Results: There was a statistically significant increase in inspiratory muscle strength (at the end of the third month of training) as assessed by maximal inspiratory pressure (from 71 ± 4.9 to 90 ± 5.1 cm H2O [± SEM], p < 0.005) and 6-min walk distance (at the end of the third month of training; from 256 ± 41 to 312 ± 54 m; p < 0.005), a decrease in the mean Borg score during breathing against resistance (at the end of the ninth month of training), improvement in the health-related quality-of-life scores (at the end of the sixth month of training) in the training group but not in the control group. At the end of the training year, these changes were maintained; in addition, a decrease in primary health-care use and hospitalization days was observed.
Conclusions: Our study shows that during IMT in patients with significant COPD, there is an increase in exercise capacity, improvement in quality of life, and decrease in dyspnea. Our study also provides evidence that long-term IMT can decrease the use of health services and hospitalization days.