Heart and Lung Conditions

Physiotherapists are specially trained in treatments to help you if you’re suffering from problems associated with cardiac (heart) and lung conditions such as shortness of breath, difficulty clearing phlegm and a limited tolerance for activity or exercise.

Physiotherapy is carried out in many different settings for such conditions, including private practice, an outpatient clinic, in-patient medical and surgical wards, intensive care, or within group exercise/education classes.

Lung conditions that cause breathing problems and may benefit from physiotherapy include the following:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Bronchitis
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Emphysema
  • Lung Cancer
  • Post-Operative Care
  • Recurrent chest infections
  • Breathing issues arising from spinal cord injury, neuromuscular weakness, or developmental delay.

Physiotherapy also forms a key part of the rehabilitation for the following Cardiac conditions:

  • Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Heart Surgery
  • Heart Failure
  • Aneurysms
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Arrhythmia
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Angina

Your Physiotherapist will first assess your individual problem and then devise a specialised treatment plan which may incorporate any or all of the following.  If appropriate, your physiotherapist will liaise with your doctor, hospital consultant or other health care professional, to help you manage your heart/lung condition to the best of your ability.

Cardiac Rehabilitation and Pulmonary Rehabilitation classes are specialised programmes which combine exercise and education components, with the aim of improving physical fitness and the ability to self-manage your condition.

For patients with lung conditions:

  • Breathing exercises – techniques to reduce shortness of breath or aid clearance of mucus/phlegm
  • Manual techniques – percussion and vibrations to loosen mucus/phlegm.
  • Positioning – to optimize lung expansion and secretion clearance.
  • Exercise programmes – improving activity levels and fitness.
  • Education/Self-Management – advice on the correct use and purpose of inhalers, nebulisers, and oxygen.
  • Advice – on thoracic mobility and posture, which are an important part in preventing long-term back problems in patients with breathing difficulties.


For patients with heart conditions:

  • Breathing exercises – techniques to reduce shortness of breath and aid clearance of mucus/ phlegm.
  • Advice – on the use of inhalers, nebulisers and volumatics.
  • Advice – on bone health for those who are inactive as a result of their breathing difficulties or for those using oral steroids.
  • Exercise programmes – this can include cardiac rehab classes, heart failure classes, community physiotherapy.