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Keywords:

  • Asthma;
  • Blood-injection-injury phobia;
  • Respiratory resistance;
  • Emotion;
  • Respiration;
  • Autonomic nervous system;
  • Electrodermal activity

Abstract

Earlier research found autonomic and airway reactivity in asthma patients when they were exposed to blood-injection-injury (BII) stimuli. We studied oscillatory resistance (Ros) in asthma and BII phobia during emotional and disease-relevant films and examined whether muscle tension counteracts emotion-induced airway constriction. Fifteen asthma patients, 12 BII phobia patients, and 14 healthy controls viewed one set of negative, positive, neutral, BII-related, and asthma-related films with leg muscle tension and a second set without. Ros, ventilation, cardiovascular activity, and skin conductance were measured continuously. Ros was higher during emotional compared to neutral films, particularly during BII material, and responses increased from healthy over asthmatic to BII phobia participants. Leg muscle tension did not abolish Ros increases. Thus, the airways are particularly responsive to BII-relevant stimuli, which could become risk factors for asthma patients.