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Pulmonary rehab shows long term benefit in COPD

By Nigel Praities

Prolonged pulmonary rehabilitation can slow decline of lung function in patients with COPD, say researchers.

Their study is the first to show benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation for disease progression, with patients receiving the treatment having significantly better lung function than controls after three years.

Researchers randomised 80 patients with moderate to severe COPD to receive pulmonary rehabilitation or usual care, consisting of follow-up appointments with a pulmonary specialist every three months.

After three years, patients receiving pulmonary rehabilitation had a decline in FEV1 of 74ml, compared with 149ml in the control group.

The pulmonary rehabilitation group also had significantly improved exercise endurance, maximal sustained work limits and BMIs, compared with controls.

Study leader Dr David Stav, a pulmonary specialist from Tel Aviv University, Israel, said: ‘Three years of pulmonary rehabilitation has an important beneficial impact on the rate of FEV1 decline, in addition to previously reported advantages of this treatment modality for COPD patients.'

The results - published online by the journal BMC Pulmonary Medicine - are a boost for the Department of Health's forthcoming clinical strategy for COPD, due to be released later this year, which is expected to focus on the patchy provision of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Pulse revealed last year that a fifth of PCTs were failing to follow NICE guidelines by providing pulmonary rehabilitation services for patients with COPD.


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