Does Respiratory Muscle Training Improve Cough Flow in Acute Stroke? Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
Background and Purpose—Cough protects the lungs from aspiration. We investigated whether respiratory muscle training may improve respiratory muscle and cough function, and potentially reduce pneumonia risk in acute stroke.
Methods—We conducted a single-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in 82 patients with stroke (mean age, 64±14 years; 49 men) within 2 weeks of stroke onset. Participants were masked to treatment allocation and randomized to 4 weeks of daily expiratory (n=27), inspiratory (n=26), or sham training (n=25), using threshold resistance devices. Primary outcome was the change in peak expiratory cough flow of maximal voluntary cough. Intention-to-treat analyses were conducted using ANCOVA, adjusting for baseline prognostic covariates.
Results—There were significant improvements in the mean maximal inspiratory (14 cmH2O; P<0.0001) and expiratory (15 cmH2O; P<0.0001) mouth pressure and peak expiratory cough flow of voluntary cough (74 L/min; P=0.0002) between baseline and 28 days in all groups. Peak expiratory cough flow of capsaicin-induced reflex cough was unchanged. There were no between-group differences that could be attributed to respiratory muscle training. There were also no differences in the 90-day incidence of pneumonia between the groups (P=0.65).
Conclusions—Respiratory muscle function and cough flow improve with time after acute stroke. Additional inspiratory or expiratory respiratory muscle training does not augment or expedite this improvement.
- Received August 15, 2014.
- Revision received November 4, 2014.
- Accepted November 12, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.