Eherer A. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012; 107:372-378.
The use of breathing exercises to train the diaphragm improved gastroesophageal reflux disease quality of life in patients with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux disease or healed esophagitis.
The prospective, randomized, controlled study included 19 patients, of which 10 entered into an active breathing training program and nine served as controls.
Factors evaluated included quality of life (QOL), pH measurements and on-demand proton pump inhibitor usage after 4 weeks. Following the initial trial period, controls also underwent breathing training. Both groups were asked to continue the exercises along with acid-suppressant therapy, with a follow-up after 9 months.
Results indicated that after 4 weeks, the training group had a decrease in the time of pH,4 from 9.1 to 4.7 (P,.05). No significant changes were observed in the control group. QOL scores were also improved within the training group, from 13.4 to 10.8 (P,.01) without significant changes in controls.
The 11 patients who continued breathing exercises after the initial study period —six from the training group and five from the non-training group — showed a significant decrease in symptom scores after 9 months, from 15.1 to 9.7 (P,.05). Long-term participants also reported a decrease in proton pump inhibitor use, from 98 mg/week to 25 mg/week (P,.05), although no significant change in usage was noted within the initial 4-week time period. Patients who abandoned the breathing exercises experienced no significant change in proton pump inhibitor use.
“Lifestyle modifications, although commonly recommended, lack sufficient data to show objective improvement of reflux,” the researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, this is the first controlled study to show that a non-invasive, non-pharmacological intervention significantly improved pH-metry and reflux symptoms of [gastroesophageal reflux disease] patients.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.