Background: Dyspnea and fatigue are frequent but poorly understood symptoms in sarcoidosis patients. This study was aimed at assessing the clinical impact of inspiratory muscle impairment on dyspnea and exercise tolerance. This is the first study using nonvolitional tests that are independent of the patient’s cooperation and motivation in addition to volitional tests of inspiratory muscle strength in patients with sarcoidosis.
Methods: Peak maximal inspiratory mouth pressure (Pimaxpeak), maximal inspiratory pressure sustained for 1.0 s (Pimax1.0), twitch mouth pressure (TwPmo), lung function test results, blood gas measurements, 6-min walking distance (6MWD), and Borg dyspnea scale (BDS) scores were assessed in 24 male sarcoidosis patients and 24 healthy male control subjects matched for age and body mass index.
Results: Mean (± SD) Pimaxpeak (95.2 ± 25.3% vs 124.6 ± 23.4% predicted, respectively; p < 0.001) and Pimax1.0 (85.6 ± 31.4% vs 125.8 ± 26.8% predicted, respectively; p < 0.001) were lower in sarcoidosis patients compared to control subjects. TwPmo tended to be lower in sarcoidosis patients, and there were three patients who had TwPmo values of < 1.0 kPa, which is a strong indicator of inspiratory muscle weakness. The mean 6MWD was 582 ± 97 m in sarcoidosis patients and 638 ± 65 in control subjects (p = 0.025). The mean BDS score was higher in sarcoidosis patients (3.3 ± 1.7 vs 0.2 ± 0.5, respectively; p < 0.001). Compared to maximal inspiratory pressure, lung function parameters, and blood gas levels, TwPmo was the strongest predictor for 6MWD (r = 0.663; p = 0.003) and BDS score (r = 0.575; p = 0.012) in sarcoidosis patients following multiple linear regression analysis.
Conclusions: Impairment of inspiratory muscle strength occurs in sarcoidosis patients, and has been suggested to be an important factor causing dyspnea and reduced walking capacity, but this is only reliably detectable when using nonvolitional tests of inspiratory muscle strength.