DOI: 10.1111/resp.14580 ISSN:

Dyspnoea relief as an inherent benefit of high flow nasal cannula therapy: A laboratory randomized trial in healthy humans

Clara Bianquis, Camille Rolland‐Debord, Isabelle Rivals, Thomas Similowski, Capucine Morélot‐Panzini
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Background and Objective

Persistent dyspnoea is a public health issue for which the therapeutic arsenal is limited. This study tested high‐flow nasal cannula therapy (HFNT) as a means to alleviate experimental dyspnoea.


Thirty‐two healthy subjects underwent an experimental dyspnoea induced by thoracoabdominal elastic loading. HFNT was administered with alternately FiO2 of 100% (HFNT100) or 21% (HFNT21). The sensory (S‐VAS) and affective (A‐VAS) components of dyspnoea, transcutaneous CO2 pressure (PtcCO2), pulse‐oximetry oxygen saturation (SpO2), heart rate, respiratory rate and skin galvanometry were monitored continuously. Three experimental sessions of 8 min were conducted: the first session consisted in familiarization with the experimental dyspnoea and the next two sessions tested the effects of HFNT100 and HFNT21 alternatively in a randomized order.


HFNT21 and HFNT100 significantly reduced dyspnoea, respectively of ∆A‐VAS = 0.80 cm [−0.02–1.5]; p = 0.007 and ∆A‐VAS = 1.00 cm [0.08–1.75]; p < 0.0001; ∆S‐VAS = 0.70 cm [−0.15–1.98]), p < 0.0001 and ∆S‐VAS = 0.70 cm [0.08–1.95]), p = 0.0002) with no significant difference between HFNT21 and HFNT100. HFNT did not significantly alter the respiratory rate or the heart rate, reduced PtcCO2 only on room air and GSR under both experimental conditions.


HFNT was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the intensity of the sensory and affective components of dyspnoea, independent of oxygen addition. This relief of laboratory dyspnoea could result from a reduction of afferent‐reafferent mismatch.

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