Mechanism of bronchodilator effect in chronic airflow limitation.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the mechanisms through which two bronchodilators (theophylline and salbutamol) influence dyspnea during daily activities. METHODS: Twenty-four patients with chronic airflow limitation participated in a multiple crossover, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The effect of theophylline and salbutamol, alone or combined, on pulmonary function and dyspnea during daily activities was examined. Correlations of changes in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and maximum expiratory pressures (MIPs) (independent variables) and changes in dyspnea score during daily activities (dependent variable) were also examined. RESULTS: The two drugs proved to be beneficial the effects in general were additive rather than synergistic. The drugs improved the FEV1; theophylline significantly improved the MIPs. The correlation between the changes in FEV1 and those in dyspnea score, after adjustment for the changes in MIPs, was 0.55 (p less than 0.001). The correlation between the changes in MIPs and those in dyspnea score, after adjustment for the changes in FEV1, was 0.39 (p less than 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Changes in airway calibre and in respiratory muscle strength play an independent and important role in dyspnea during daily activities in patients with chronic airflow limitation. Changes in airway calibre may be of greater importance.
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