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No impact of exacerbation frequency and severity on the physical activity decline in COPD: a long-term observation

Authors Sievi NA, Kohler M, Thurnheer R, Leuppi JD, Irani S, Frey M, Brutsche M, Brack T, Clarenbach CF

Received 25 September 2018

Accepted for publication 18 January 2019

Published 15 February 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 431—437


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Noriane A Sievi,1 Malcolm Kohler,1 Robert Thurnheer,2 Joerg D Leuppi,3 Sarosh Irani,4 Martin Frey,5 Martin Brutsche,6 Thomas Brack,7 Christian F Clarenbach1

1Pulmonary Division, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; 2Pulmonary Division, Cantonal Hospital of Münsterlingen, Münsterlingen, Switzerland; 3University Clinic of Medicine, Cantonal Hospital Baselland and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; 4Pulmonary Division, Cantonal Hospital of Aarau, Aarau, Switzerland; 5Pulmonary Division, Clinic Barmelweid, Barmelweid, Switzerland; 6Pulmonary Division, Cantonal Hospital of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland; 7Pulmonary Division, Cantonal Hospital of Glarus, Glarus, Switzerland

Introduction: COPD exacerbations are associated with a concomitant profound reduction in daily physical activity (PA). Thereby, exacerbation frequency and severity may have an amplifying effect. Whether the reduced level of PA returns to the level prior to exacerbation or has a sustained negative impact on activity behavior over time is unclear.
Methods: The number of steps per day over 1 week, as a measure of daily PA, was assessed annually in a cohort of patients with COPD. Exacerbation frequency and severity were documented. Uni- and multivariate mixed effect models were used to investigate associations between change in number of steps per day (dependent variable) and exacerbations. Stratification by possible confounders was performed.
Results: One hundred and eighty one COPD patients (median [quartile] age 64 [59/69] years, 65% male, median [quartiles] FEV1 % pred. 46 [33/65]) suffered a total of 273 exacerbations during the observation period (median [quartiles] follow-up time of 2.1 [1.6/3.1] years). Neither the frequency nor the severity of exacerbations was significantly related to the overall decline in PA over time. Stratification by different possible confounders such as age, sex and disease severity did not yield a subgroup in which exacerbations enhance the decrease in PA over time.
Conclusion: The drop in PA during the phase of an acute exacerbation seems not to be a lasting phenomenon leading to a fundamental change in activity behavior.
Trial registration:, NCT01527773

Keywords: COPD, daily physical activity, exacerbation

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