Effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation in severe asthma: a retrospective data analysis

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Background: Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is a multimodal treatment that is still poorly investigated in severe asthma where respiratory symptoms remain “uncontrolled” despite intensive pharmacological therapy. Bronchiectasis and obstructive sleep apnea (OSAS) are common comorbidities which may worsen asthma control. Aim: Aim of the present study is to investigate the effectiveness of PR on functional exercise, dyspnea, and muscle fatigue in patients with severe asthma. Methods: A total of 317 patients affected from severe asthma according to GINA guidelines who underwent a multidisciplinary 3 weeks rehabilitation program with an adherence of >80% to PR and able to complete a Six Minute Walking Test (6MWT) were retrospectively included in the analysis. Pulmonary rehabilitation included endurance training, educational meetings, chest physiotherapy, breathing exercises, and psychological support. Six-minute walking distance and Borg scale for dyspnea and muscle fatigue were recorded before and after the rehabilitation. Results: A total of 371 patients were analyzed, 39 had bronchiectasis (10.5%), 163 (43.9%) OSAS and 17 had both (4.6%). PR significantly improved 6MWT distance, Borg dyspnea and muscle fatigue (p value < 0.0001 for all outcomes) and mean SpO2 recorded during 6MWT (p value < 0.0001). Median (IQR) delta 6 minute walking distance was 33 (14–60) m. 6MWT distance (p < 0.0001) and the oxygen saturation (p < 0.01) significantly improved in severe asthma with bronchiectasis and/or OSAS. Conclusions: Our study provides evidence for the first time on a large sample of patients with severe asthma that a multidisciplinary PR program is effective in terms of exercise capacity and symptoms. In addition, exercise capacity improved in the presence of bronchiectasis and/or OSAS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalJournal of Asthma
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • chronic respiratory disease
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • respiratory symptoms
  • Six Minute Walking Test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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