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What To Expect Before Pulmonary Rehabilitation

When you first start pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), your team of health care providers will want to learn more about your health.

For example, they'll want to know how well you're able to breathe and exercise. You'll have lung function tests to check your breathing. These tests measure how much air you can breathe in and out, how fast you can breathe air out, and how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your blood.

Your team can check your ability to exercise several ways. They may measure how far you can walk in 6 minutes (called a 6-minute walk test). Or, they may ask you to exercise on a treadmill while your oxygen level, blood pressure, and heart rate are measured.

Your PR team also will review your medical therapy to see whether it needs to be changed during the PR program. For example, you may need to start using, or increase the use of, inhaled bronchodilators. These medicines can help you breathe easier during exercise. You also may need oxygen therapy to help you get the most out of your exercise plan.

Your PR team may assess your mental health. If you have anxiety or are very depressed, they may refer you to a specialist who can treat these issues.

In addition, the team may measure your weight and height, ask about your food intake and general nutrition, and recommend a blood test to assess loss of muscle mass.

The data your PR team gathers at the start of your program will help them create a plan that's tailored to your abilities and needs.

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Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Pulmonary Rehabilitation, visit

August 01, 2010 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.