Phase 2 Clinical Trial to Assess Efficacy of Breathing Exercise for Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Inspiratory muscle training was originally devised to be used by athletes and individuals with breathing problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and bronchitis.

Investigators are launching a phase 2 trial to analyze the long-term efficacy of inspiratory muscle training—a respiratory training protocol—for improving cardiovascular health and reducing blood pressure in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a press release from the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

“High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the number 1 cause of death in America,” E. Fiona Bailey, PhD, a professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said in the release. “Five minutes a day of inspiratory muscle training, consisting of just 30 inspiratory efforts against resistance, offers a low-cost, non-pharmacologic means of improving both sleep quality and blood pressure.”

OSA is a serious health condition defined by the repeated relaxing of the throat muscles during sleep, causing them to collapse inward and prevent air from reaching the lungs for a short period of time. This results in oxygen deprivation and repeated awakening from sleep, which together contribute to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Prior research suggests OSA affects around 50% of adults in the United States and nearly 1 billion patients worldwide.

Inspiratory muscle training was originally devised to be used by athletes and individuals with breathing problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and bronchitis. This protocol was adapted by the investigators for everyday use by adults with OSA. The modified program can be performed at home, at work, or when travelling, using a hand-held training device similar to an inhaler.

Prior studies performed by the same group demonstrated that inspiratory muscle training builds respiratory muscle strength and lowers blood pressure. This reduction in blood pressure surpasses the improvements gained through traditional aerobic exercise and, in some cases, can exceed reductions achieved through the use of blood pressure medications.

The new clinical trial will implement inspiratory muscle training over the course of 6 months in a group of participants between 50 and 80 years of age with OSA and above-normal blood pressure. The investigators will follow up with participants 3 months after the end of the training to analyze how long the blood pressure-lowering effects last.

“New cost-effective and time-efficient strategies are needed to manage the health issues caused by obstructive sleep apnea,” Bailey said in the release. “It is vitally important that we devise new approaches to help people keep their blood pressure under control and improve cardiovascular health.”

REFERENCE

College of Medicine – Tucson clinical trial to study a simple breathing exercise for obstructive sleep apnea [news release]. EurekAlert; August 5, 2021. Accessed August 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/924505