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)

Condition Minute
ventilation
Number of
people
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)

4 Types of breathing patterns

Fig. Four types of breathing, their minute ventilation,
respiratory frequency, and body-oxygen test results.

Find your type of breathing pattern

Brain heavy breathing effects 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.

MDs 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).

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