Research: LEHRER and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 139


LEHRER and co-authors, Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 671 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA,, have presented a study of biofeedback for asthma.


The aim of the study was to carry out additional analysis of data from a previously published study showing that biofeedback training to increase heart rate variability can be an effective component in asthma treatment. Heart rate variability is negatively correlated with age.


Ten sessions of heart rate variability biofeedback were administered to 45 adults with asthma. Medication was prescribed by blinded physicians according to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute criteria. Medication needs were reassessed biweekly.


Decreases in need for medication were independent of age. There were larger acute decreases in forced oscillation frequency dependence in the older group, but larger increases in heart rate variability in the younger group. Differences between age groups were smaller among subjects trained in pursed-lips abdominal breathing as well as biofeedback, than among those receiving only biofeedback.


Age-related attenuation of biofeedback effects on cardiovascular variability does not diminish the usefulness of the method for treating asthma among older patients. Additional training in pursed-lips abdominal breathing obliterates the effects of age on heart rate variability changes during biofeedback.


Lehrer P, Vaschillo E, Lu SE, Eckberg D, Vaschillo B, Scardella A, Habib R. Heart rate variability biofeedback: effects of age on heart rate variability, baroreflex gain, and asthma. Chest 129 (2): 278-284, Feb 2006.

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