Starting pulmonary rehabilitation soon after hospital discharge for an acute COPD flare may reduce the risk of readmission in the subsequent three months, says a study. Sixty patients admitted to the hospital for an exacerbation of COPD were randomly assigned to receive standard follow-up care or pulmonary rehabilitation on an outpatient basis within a week of being discharged.

Over a three-month period, 33 percent of those receiving standard care were readmitted to the hospital with another exacerbation, compared with 7 percent of those receiving pulmonary rehabilitation. And 57 percent of the standard-care group received care in the emergency room or were admitted, versus 27 percent of the rehabilitation group.

Other benefits of early outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation include increased leg strength and greater exercise capacity. The authors note that the patients in this study had less severe COPD, so the results may not apply to those with more serious COPD. Nevertheless, many people with COPD find that pulmonary rehab is very beneficial, so if you're hospitalized for a flare-up, talk to your doctor about referral to a program near you.

Source: Thorax Volume 65, page 423, May 2010

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 14 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2013