Asthma sufferers can look forward to being treated with biofeedback, where patients learn to change their body’s behaviour by thinking about it.
Teaching 55 asthma sufferers how to change their heart rate variability by combining thought, abdominal breathing training and measurement of heart rate enabled the group to reduce the amount of steroids they needed to control their asthma by significant amounts. A matched group of 49 volunteer sufferers who were given either no training or ‘pretend’ training showed no improvement.
Twice-daily home readings plus frequent biofeedback training sessions and medical checks showed that the improvements could be sustained with real increases in lung function. No ‘flare’ of asthma resulted from the decreased steroid use.
Study leader Paul Lehrer from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway, said that their results were promising, but that ‘caution is advised at this time in using this method for treatment of asthma, until the mechanisms of action are better understood and the long-term protective effect has been documented’.
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Firstt Published October 2004
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