Published:  2012

Positive emotion reduces dyspnea during slow paced breathing

Authors:  Ben Allen, Bruce H. Friedman

Tags:  Cardiovascular resonance, Dyspnea, Emotion, Heart rate variability, Paced breathing

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Slow breathing is used to induce cardiovascular resonance, a state associated with health benefits, but it can also increase tidal volume and associated dyspnea (respiratory discomfort). Dyspnea may be decreased by induced positive affect. In this study, 71 subjects (36 men, M = 20 years) breathed at 6 breaths per min. In condition one, subjects paced their breathing by inhaling and exhaling as a vertical bar moved up and down. In condition two, breathing was paced by a timed slideshow of positive images; subjects inhaled during a black screen and exhaled as the image appeared. Cardiac, respiratory, and self-reported dyspnea and emotional indices were recorded. Tidal volume and the intensity and unpleasantness of dyspnea were reduced when paced breathing was combined with pleasant images. These results show that positive affect can reduce dyspnea during slow paced breathing, and may have applications for induced cardiovascular resonance.