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Physical activity decreases risk of dying in COPD

Any amount of moderate activity reduces the risk of death after hospitalisation for COPD

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Any amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity can reduce the risk of dying after hospitalisation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study* published in ERJ Open Research.

Patients with COPD can be hospitalised if they experience an acute exacerbation of their symptoms, and rehospitalisation and death rates are high following hospitalisation. In addition, hospitalisations due to severe exacerbations of COPD account for up to 70% of the healthcare costs associated with COPD.

Researchers studied health records of 2,370 patients from Kaiser Permanente Southern California who were hospitalised for COPD.

They found that patients who were active had a 47% lower risk of death in the 12 months following a COPD hospitalisation, compared to inactive patients. Patients who were active but at insufficient levels still maintained a 28% lower risk of death, compared to inactive patients.

The authors concluded that monitoring levels of physical activity with a simple exercise "vital sign", of a self-report of any level of moderate or vigorous physical activity, could help healthcare professionals identify, monitor and treat those patients at a high risk of death following hospitalisation.

Dr Marilyn Moy, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, said: "We know that physical activity can have a positive benefit for people with COPD and these findings confirm that it may reduce the risk of dying following hospitalisation for an acute exacerbation. The results also demonstrate the importance of routinely assessing physical activity in clinical care to identify high-risk patients as part of a larger strategy to promote physical activity in this highly sedentary population."


* Marilyn L, et al. Physical activity assessed in routine care predicts mortality after a COPD hospitalisation. ERJ Open Research. Published 17 March 2016. DOI: 10.1183/23120541.00062-2015 Link

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