Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Treatment: Active Cycle Breathing (ACBT)

Cystic Fibrosis Center

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Treatment: Active Cycle Breathing (ACBT)

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Active cycle breathing (ACBT) is a series of breathing techniques that help clear secretions in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and improve aeration to the alveoli (tiny airsacs that make up the lungs).

This technique combines breathing exercises with the huff cough. This technique has three components in a set cycle:

  • Relaxation and Breathing Control: Normal breathing relaxing one's upper chest and shoulders using the diaphragm muscle.
  • Thoracic Expansion Exercises: Deep breathing on inspiration and quiet relaxed breathing on expiration to help to loosen the secretions.
  • Forced Exhalation Technique (FET): A couple of huffs from a medium-sized breath. The force of the huff cough will depend upon where the mucus is felt in the lungs to mobilize the secretions. This cycle is repeated until the huff becomes dry or is non-productive or 20 minutes.

Active cycle breathing can be done sitting upright or in the postural drainage positions. Active cycle breathing should be discussed with your physician prior to implementation.