The Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation teams at Leicester’s Hospitals are working together to deliver a Breathlessness Rehabilitation service at Glenfield Hospital and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands (NCSEM-EM) based in Loughborough.  Following on from a successful pilot scheme from May to July 2017 Leicester’s Hospitals have now made this multi-disciplinary service permanent.

Breathlessness is one of the most common reasons for people seeking emergency care and the number of patients treated for breathlessness is increasing every year.  Rehabilitation can help reduce the symptoms these patients experience, help secure a better quality of life and reduce the need for subsequent healthcare. As well as physiotherapists, the rehab team includes specialist nurses, occupational therapists, behavioural psychologists and exercise instructors.

Breathlessness rehabilitation enables patients to combine exercise with education.  This includes aerobic exercise and strength circuit sessions as well as exercises for patients to do at home. Follow up education sessions then take place and provide information on self-management, symptom control, behaviour change and long term management.

The service is delivered twice a week for six weeks at NCSEM-EM for patients with chronic diseases, such as heart failure (HfNEF) or chronic lung disease, who experience disabling breathlessness.

Amye Watt, Senior Specialist Physiotherapist at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are delighted that initial outcomes have shown overall improvement in our patients’ physical health and quality of life.

“The feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive; they are enjoying learning about how they can progress to reach their individual fitness goals and techniques to help them self-manage their condition and symptoms.

“We are now developing the service to accept any patients with a primary diagnosis of breathlessness.”

The Breathlessness Rehabilitation Service is an important addition to the programmes offered to individuals with long term condition such as heart failure or chronic respiratory disease and other important long term diseases.