Types of Breathing Patterns: Respiratory patterns with Charts
There are 2 most important regular types of breathing patterns:
- the normal breathing pattern (see links to medical textbooks below) that is present in healthy people: about 12 breaths per minute, 500 mL for tidal volume, 6 L/min for minute ventilation rates, and about 40 mm Hg for arterial and alveolar CO2 partial pressure
- the ineffective breathing pattern (present in moderately sick people with chronic diseases): with about 18-20 breaths/minute; 700-800 mL for tidal volume, and about 15 L/min for MV, with less than 35 mm Hg for aCO2. Hence, the sick breathe faster and deeper than the norms. These numbers in the sick are common for many chronic conditions.
Minute ventilation rates (chronic diseases)
| All references or
click below for abstracts
|Normal breathing||6 L/min||-||Medical textbooks|
|Healthy Subjects||6-7 L/min||>400||Results of 14 studies|
|Heart disease||15 (~+mn~4) L/min||22||Dimopoulou et al, 2001|
|Heart disease||16 (~+mn~2) L/min||11||Johnson et al, 2000|
|Heart disease||12 (~+mn~3) L/min||132||Fanfulla et al, 1998|
|Heart disease||15 (~+mn~4) L/min||55||Clark et al, 1997|
|Heart disease||13 (~+mn~4) L/min||15||Banning et al, 1995|
|Heart disease||15 (~+mn~4) L/min||88||Clark et al, 1995|
|Heart disease||14 (~+mn~2) L/min||30||Buller et al, 1990|
|Heart disease||16 (~+mn~6) L/min||20||Elborn et al, 1990|
|Pulm hypertension||12 (~+mn~2) L/min||11||D'Alonzo et al, 1987|
|Cancer||12 (~+mn~2) L/min||40||Travers et al, 2008|
|Diabetes||12-17 L/min||26||Bottini et al, 2003|
|Diabetes||15 (~+mn~2) L/min||45||Tantucci et al, 2001|
|Diabetes||12 (~+mn~2) L/min||8||Mancini et al, 1999|
|Diabetes||10-20 L/min||28||Tantucci et al, 1997|
|Diabetes||13 (~+mn~2) L/min||20||Tantucci et al, 1996|
|Asthma||13 (~+mn~2) L/min||16||Chalupa et al, 2004|
|Asthma||15 L/min||8||Johnson et al, 1995|
|Asthma||14 (~+mn~6) L/min||39||Bowler et al, 1998|
|Asthma||13 (~+mn~4) L/min||17||Kassabian et al, 1982|
|Asthma||12 L/min||101||McFadden, Lyons, 1968|
|COPD||14 (~+mn~2) L/min||12||Palange et al, 2001|
|COPD||12 (~+mn~2) L/min||10||Sinderby et al, 2001|
|COPD||14 L/min||3||Stulbarg et al, 2001|
|Sleep apnea||15 (~+mn~3) L/min||20||Radwan et al, 2001|
|Liver cirrhosis||11-18 L/min||24||Epstein et al, 1998|
|Hyperthyroidism||15 (~+mn~1) L/min||42||Kahaly, 1998|
|Cystic fibrosis||15 L/min||15||Fauroux et al, 2006|
|Cystic fibrosis||10 L/min||11||Browning et al, 1990|
|Cystic fibrosis*||10 L/min||10||Ward et al, 1999|
|CF and diabetes*||10 L/min||7||Ward et al, 1999|
|Cystic fibrosis||16 L/min||7||Dodd et al, 2006|
|Cystic fibrosis||18 L/min||9||McKone et al, 2005|
|Cystic fibrosis*||13 (~+mn~2) L/min||10||Bell et al, 1996|
|Cystic fibrosis||11-14 L/min||6||Tepper et al, 1983|
|Epilepsy||13 L/min||12||Esquivel et al, 1991|
|CHV||13 (~+mn~2) L/min||134||Han et al, 1997|
|Panic disorder||12 (~+mn~5) L/min||12||Pain et al, 1991|
|Bipolar disorder||11 (~+mn~2) L/min||16||MacKinnon et al, 2007|
|Dystrophia myotonica||16 (~+mn~4) L/min||12||Clague et al, 1994|
Note that advanced stages of asthma can lead to lung destruction, ventilation-perfusion mismatch,
and arterial hypercapnia causing further reduction in body oxygen levels.
There are numerous studies that testify that severely and critically sick people commonly breathe up to 30 or more breaths per minute, indicating severe hyperventilation. This corresponds to the heavy breathing pattern. Ideal breathing, according to clinical experience of about 200 Russian medical doctors, due to CO2 effects, is very slow: only about 3-4 breaths/minute. Here is a list of all four types of regular automatic (or unconscious) breathing patterns on one chart.
4 Types of Breathing Patterns (Chart)
Fig. Four types of breathing, their minute ventilation,
respiratory frequency, and body-oxygen test results.
Find your type of breathing pattern
It is easy to prove that overbreathing (having larger tidal volume and higher respiratory frequency) leads to a reduced body oxygen level (measured with the body oxygen test - stress-free breath holding time after usual exhalation) due to hypocapnia and other effects (e.g., chest breathing). The detailed mechanism (why overbreathing lowers tissue-oxygen content) is discussed in the next Section: Carbon dioxide effects.
Warning. Note that people cannot simply count their respiratory rate (or respiratory frequency) since counting one's own respiratory rate can change the automatic breathing pattern (tidal volume and Rf) up to 2-3 times, as soon as the person pays attention to his or her own respiration.
There are, of course, many types of irregular respiratory patterns and abnormal breathing patterns. Some people sigh every 3-5 minutes. Others cough a lot, or sniff sporadically. Often, breathing through the mouth is a part of the picture. All these irregularities are signs of low oxygenation and low CP due to chronic hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency in the brain cells). Respiratory irregularities can also occur during sleep and they can cause gradual development of sleep apnea.
Based on over 40 years of medical research conducted by Russian Medical Doctor Konstantin Buteyko and over 200 of his medical colleagues, it was suggested that the normal breathing pattern is incompatible with chronic health problems. As a result, Buteyko suggested that 60 s for the body-oxygen test (Buteyko CP test) should be a standard of excellent health. These types of breathing have only about 8 breaths per minute at rest. According to the clinical experience of these doctors, clinical remission of severely sick people is usually accompanied by gradual transitions between these 3 or 4 types of breathing patterns: from heavy and deep breathing to very slow and light (with reduction in tidal volume and a change in breathing rates).
Video: Types of breathing patterns
Reference pages: Breathing norms and the DIY body oxygen test:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in body tissues
- Nerve stabilization: Carbon dioxide has powerful calmative and sedative effects on brain neurons and nerve cells
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