Helping COPD patients change health behavior in order to improve their quality of life
Pere Almagro, Alejandra Castro
Acute Geriatric Care Unity, Internal Medicine Department, University Hospital Mútua de Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases in adults worldwide and is associated with a deleterious effect on the quality of life of affected patients. Although it remains one of the leading causes of global mortality, the prognosis seems to have improved in recent years. Even so, the number of patients with COPD and multiple comorbidities has risen, hindering their management and highlighting the need for futures changes in the model of care. Together with standard medical treatment and therapy adherence – essential to optimizing disease control – several nonpharmacological therapies have proven useful in the management of these patients, improving their health-related quality of life (HRQoL) regardless of lung function parameters. Among these are improved diagnosis and treatment of comorbidities, prevention of COPD exacerbations, and greater attention to physical disability related to hospitalization. Pulmonary rehabilitation reduces symptoms, optimizes functional status, improves activity and daily function, and restores the highest level of independent physical function in these patients, thereby improving HRQoL even more than pharmacological treatment. Greater physical activity is significantly correlated with improvement of dyspnea, HRQoL, and mobility, along with a decrease in the loss of lung function. Nutritional support in malnourished COPD patients improves exercise capacity, while smoking cessation slows disease progression and increases HRQoL. Other treatments such as psychological and behavioral therapies have proven useful in the treatment of depression and anxiety, both of which are frequent in these patients. More recently, telehealthcare has been associated with improved quality of life and a reduction in exacerbations in some patients. A more multidisciplinary approach and individualization of interventions will be essential in the near future.
Keywords: COPD, health related quality of life, comorbidity, disability, pulmonary rehabilitation, telehealthcare
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