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Fact Sheets

Breathing, Heart and Lung Problems

Breathing, Heart and Lung Problems

Chartered Physiotherapists are specially trained in treatments and techniques to help with problems associated with heart and lung conditions such as shortness of breath, difficulty clearing phlegm and a limited tolerance for activity or exercise.

Lung conditions which cause breathing problems and may benefit from chest physiotherapy, include the following:

Bronchitis / Recurrent chest infections
Cystic Fibrosis
Lung Cancer

Specialised physiotherapy can also be helpful to those who may have had

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
Heart Surgery

Breathing techniques
Breathing techniques

The Chartered Physiotherapist will first assess your individual problem and devise a specialised treatment plan, which may incorporate any or all of the following:

  • Breathing exercises – techniques to reduce shortness of breath and aid clearance of mucus/ phlegm e.g. active cycle of breathing technique, autogenic drainage and positive expiratory pressure devices.
  • Manual techniques – percussion and vibrations to loosen mucus/phlegm.
  • Advice on positioning to allow gravity to assist the drainage of mucus/phlegm.
  • Advice on the use of inhalers, nebulisers and volumatics.
  • Exercise programmes – to help improve fitness by increasing blood oxygen levels. You may also be given advice on how best to manage your condition while participating in sport.
  • Advice on bone health for those who are inactive as a result of their breathing difficulties or for those using oral steroid.
  • Advice on thoracic mobility and posture- an important part in prevention of long term back problems in patients with breathing difficulties.

If appropriate, your physiotherapist will liaise with your doctor, hospital consultant or other health care professional. The aim of the Chartered Physiotherapist is to help you to manage your heart/lung condition to the best of your ability within your lifestyle.

A Chartered Physiotherapist is a university graduate with hospital-based training who has comprehensive knowledge of how the body works and specialist training in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.