On average, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients experience two acute exacerbations COPD (eCOPD) annually. These are life-threatening aggravations in the respiratory symptom that can increase the risk of being hospitalized with severe attacks. Even when the intense physical effects of these events are present over a short period of time, they can present significant repercussions in the patient’s state of well being.
Dr. Cristóbal Esteban in the Bilbao’s Hospital Galdakao-Usansolo was a contributor to a recent study with interesting implications in how COPD exacerbations can be addressed. The paper, published in Respiratory journal, evaluates the effect of the changes in regular physical activities over the hospitalization frequencies of COPD patients.
543 COPD patients were prospectively identified from five respiratory clinics located in Spain. Their physical activity was self-reported and subsequently classified by the walked distance within a week period and paired with the hospitalization records from the Bilbao’s Hospital Galdakao-Usansolo database.
According to Dr. Esteban, the results of the study revealed a correlation between patients who engage in physical activity, such as walking, and less complications due to COPD. Specifically, patients who conformed to a regular walking regimen or engaged in a comparable physical activity were hospitalized only 53 percent as often as those who didn’t walk regularly.
The study, according to Dr. Venessa Holland, a pulmonologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, “helps solidify what we’ve been doing with patients with any obstructive lung disease,” which involves encouraging patients to engage in physical activities such as walking.
“COPD patients are less likely to engage in regular physical activity than healthy individuals. However, regular exercise has been associated with reduced risk of hospitalization for exacerbated COPD and mortality among patients with COPD,” The researchers concluded “Changes to a higher level of physical activity or maintaining a moderate or high-level of physical activity over time, with a low intensity activity such as walking for at least 3–6 km/day, could reduce the rate of hospitalizations for eCOPD.”