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Breathlessness intervention service (BIS)

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Breathing problems are very common in people who have heart and lung conditions or some types of cancer. Breathlessness is disabling, frightening and distressing for all concerned. The good news is that there are several interventions (things) that can help, and this specialist Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) can help you and your family live more easily with your breathing problems.

Attend Anywhere video consultation

Did you know your outpatient appointment for this service may now be done by video consultation using Attend Anywhere. This enables you to be able to attend your appointment from home, saving you time and money.

Find out more about outpatient video appointments

Breathlessness is one of the most difficult and one of the most common symptoms of many advanced diseases. It has been called the pain of non-malignant disease because of this. Sadly the difficulties of living with breathlessness are often not recognised, even by very well-informed people, relatives or friends.

It is a very frightening symptom to have to live with and can induce feelings of helplessness or despair. Both the person who suffers from it and those closest to them often become anxious and sometimes depressed and worried by the impact of breathlessness.

There has not been much research in breathlessness and management has not progressed as well as it has for other symptoms such as pain. It is for this reason I set up a research based breathlessness service (BIS) at Addenbrooke’s hospital to help patients living with breathlessness and to learn more about how to improve the care of breathless patients ensuring that patients with breathlessness get all the help they need.


The Cambridge breathlessness intervention service (CBIS) supports patients with chronic breathlessness that persists despite optimal management of the underlying disease(s). Patients and carers are supported to self-manage, using mostly non-drug approaches including breathing techniques, anxiety management and building up activity. The aim is to reduce the impact of breathlessness, and the use of health care.

CBIS is providing significant community consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic by telephone and / or video calls.

CBIS can help the following patient groups

  • People with long term conditions who are self-isolating and need support to self-manage breathlessness. Self-isolation can exacerbate anxiety and deconditioning, and these can both worsen breathlessness.
  • People who are recovering from COVID-19 and are experiencing breathlessness. As well as viral lung involvement, causes of increased breathlessness include anxiety, deconditioning and dysfunctional breathing patterns.

Patient support links

Charitable organisations


Patient information

Met Office – health (opens in a new tab)
Did you know that cold weather can affect your COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and it can be made worse by viruses that cause coughs and colds. The met office’s healthy outlook service will warn you when conditions are expected that could make your COPD worse, so you can take action to keep it well.

Mindfulness videos - Jon Kabat-Zinn (opens in a new tab)
Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.


Referrals to breathlessness intervention service

If you wish to refer a patient to BIS, please email breathlessness intervention service to request a referral form. Thank you.