Muscle weakness, rigidity, tremor, bradykinesia and gait impairment are common symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease and may contribute for a reduced efficiency during exercise, despite a similar maximal aerobic power when compared with healthy individuals. Respiratory dysfunction is also described in these patients and may play a role for this worst performance. To improve the understanding of this dysfunction in breathing pattern we evaluated 19 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and 19 healthy controls (CT) during incremental exercise by using cardiopulmonary exercise test. Tidal volume (VT); breathing frequency (BF); total respiratory time (TOT); inspiratory time (TI); expiratory time (TE); inspiratory time to total time (TI/TOT); ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide (VE/VCO2) and end-tidal carbon dioxide pressure (PETCO2) were assessed and expressed as a function of minute ventilation (VE) of 30, 40 and 50 L/min for comparisons. To examine the normal distribution of data, the Shapiro-Wilk test was done. Demographic and clinical data were compared between groups by using independent t-test. To compare groups, variables at 30, 40 and 50 L/min a mixed 3 × 2 ANOVA was performed. Significance level was previously set at p < 0.05. Post-hoc LSD analysis was conducted. PD group were composed by 8 women and 11 men and CT group by 7 women and 12 men. No differences were observed for age (PD: 61 ± 8 y; CT: 61 ± 7 y; p = 0.89), body mass index (PD: 25.2 ± 3.0 kg/m²; CT: 25.0 ± 3.2 kg/m²; p = 0.85) and relative peak oxygen consumption (PD: 28.1 ± 7.8 ml/kg.min; CT: 30.0 ± 8.1 ml/kg.min; p = 0.45). VT (F1 = 9.1; p = 0.005), TOT (F1 = 12.54; p = 0.001), TI (F1 = 6.35; p = 0.016) and TE (F1 = 14.25; p = 0.001) are reduced and BF (F1 = 8.12; p = 0.007) are higher in PD when compared with CT in all situations analysed. Pattern and time of breathing during incremental exercise is altered in Parkinson’s disease despite similar maximal aerobic power when compared with healthy controls.
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