Study objectives: To determine the efficacy of a novel mask device in limiting cold air exercise-induced decline in lung function in subjects with a history of exercise-induced asthma (EIA).
Setting: In spite of appropriate medical therapy, many asthma patients are limited in cold weather activities.
Design: In study 1, 13 asthmatic subjects performed two randomized, single-blind treadmill exercise tests while breathing cold air (− 25 to − 15°C) through a placebo or active heat exchanger mask. In study 2, five subjects with EIA performed three treadmill exercise tests while breathing cold air: one test using the heat exchanger mask, one test without the mask but with albuterol pretreatment, and one test with neither the mask nor albuterol pretreatment (unprotected exercise). For all studies, spirometry was performed before and at 5, 15, and 30 min after exercise challenge.
Patients: For both studies, a total of 15 subjects with a history of asthma symptoms during cold air exercise were recruited.
Results: In study 1, the mean decrease (± SE) in FEV1 was 19 ± 4.9% with placebo, and 4.3 ± 1.6% with the active device (p = 0.0002). The mean decrease in maximum mid-expiratory flow (FEF25–75) was 31 ± 5.7% with placebo and 4.7 ± 1.7% with the active device (p = 0.0002). In study 2, the mean decrease in FEV1 was 6.3 ± 3.9%, 11 ± 3.7%, and 28 ± 10% for the heat exchanger mask, albuterol pretreatment, and unprotected exercises, respectively (p = 0.4375 for mask vs albuterol, p = 0.0625 for mask vs unprotected exercise). The mean decrease in FEF25–75 was 10 ± 4.8%, 23 ± 6.0%, and 36 ± 11%, respectively (p = 0.0625 for mask vs albuterol, p = 0.0625 for mask vs unprotected exercise).
Conclusions: This heat exchanger mask blocks cold exercise-induced decline in lung function at least as effectively as albuterol pretreatment.