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What Are the Benefits and Risks of Pulmonary Rehabilitation?


Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) can't cure your lung disease or completely relieve your breathing problems. However, PR does have many benefits. For example, it may:

  • Improve your quality of life
  • Help you function better in your daily life
  • Increase your ability to exercise
  • Decrease the symptoms of your disease or condition
  • Help you manage anxiety and depression

You also may have fewer breathing problems as a result of PR. Although PR doesn't improve your lung function, it allows you to make the most of the limited lung function you have.


PR usually is safe. The only risks are related to the exercise part of the program. For example, physical activity may cause injuries to your muscles or bones.

If you have another disorder, such as heart disease, physical activity may increase your risk of having a heart attack or arrhythmia (ah-RITH-me-ah). An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat.

The health data that your PR team collects at the start of your program and during the program can help prevent these problems.

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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.