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Persisting breathlessness and activities reduced or ceased: a population study in older men

Kochovska, Slavica; Currow, David; Chang, Sungwon; Johnson, Miriam; Ferreira, Diana; Morgan, Deidre; Olsson, Max; Ekström, Magnus


Slavica Kochovska

David Currow

Sungwon Chang

Diana Ferreira

Deidre Morgan

Max Olsson

Magnus Ekström


INTRODUCTION: Breathlessness is debilitating and increases in prevalence with age, with people progressively reducing their everyday activities to 'self-manage' it. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of breathlessness on function in terms of activities that have been reduced or ceased ('compromised') in older men. METHODS: A cross-sectional postal survey of Swedish 73-year-old man in the VAScular and Chronic Obstructive Lung disease study self-reporting on demographics, breathlessness (modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) scale, Dyspnoea-12, Multidimensional Dyspnea Scale) and its duration, anxiety/depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), performance status (WHO Performance Status), everyday activities reduced/ceased and exertion. RESULTS: 148/828 (17.9%) respondents reported breathlessness (mMRC >2), of whom 51.9% had reduced/ceased activities compared with 9.6% who did not. Physical activity was the most common activity reduced/ceased (48.0%) followed by sexual activity (41.2%) and social activities (37.8%). Of 16.0% of respondents with mMRC 3-4 talking on the phone was affected compared with only 2.9% of respondents with mMRC 2. Worsening breathlessness was associated with increasingly sedentary lifestyles and more limited function, those reporting reduced/ceased activities had an associated increase in reporting anxiety and depression. In adjusted analyses, breathlessness was associated with increased likelihood of activities being ceased overall as well as physical and sexual activities being affected separately. CONCLUSION: Worsening breathlessness was associated with decreasing levels of self-reported physical activity, sexual activity and function. Overall, the study showed that people with persisting breathlessness modify their lifestyle to avoid it by reducing or ceasing a range of activities, seeking to minimise their exposure to the symptom.


Kochovska, S., Currow, D., Chang, S., Johnson, M., Ferreira, D., Morgan, D., …Ekström, M. (2022). Persisting breathlessness and activities reduced or ceased: a population study in older men. BMJ Open Respiratory Research, 9(1), Article e001168.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 27, 2022
Online Publication Date May 20, 2022
Publication Date May 1, 2022
Deposit Date Apr 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2022
Journal BMJ open respiratory research
Electronic ISSN 2052-4439
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number e001168
Public URL


Published article (876 Kb)

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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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