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The Impact of COPD Exacerbations in the Year Following Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Secondary Analysis of a Randomised Controlled Trial

Authors Wageck B, Cox NS, McDonald CF, Burge AT, Mahal A, Hill CJ, Lee AL, Moore R, Nicolson C, O’Halloran P, Lahham A, Gillies R, Holland AE

Received 16 July 2020

Accepted for publication 26 October 2020

Published 31 December 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 3423—3431


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Bruna Wageck,1 Narelle S Cox,1– 3 Christine F McDonald,3– 5 Angela T Burge,1– 3,6 Ajay Mahal,7 Catherine J Hill,3,8 Annemarie L Lee,2,3,6 Rosemary Moore,3,8 Caroline Nicolson,9,10 Paul O’Halloran,11 Aroub Lahham,1– 3 Rebecca Gillies,1,8 Anne E Holland1– 3,6

1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia; 2Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; 3Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Melbourne, Australia; 4Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia; 5Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; 6Department of Physiotherapy, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia; 7The Nossal Institute of Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; 8Department of Physiotherapy, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia; 9Department of Pulmonary Hypertension, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia; 10Physiotherapy Department, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; 11Department of Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence: Anne E Holland
Monash University, Central Clinical School, Level 6, Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia
Tel +61 3 99030214

Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation is an effective treatment for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but its benefits are poorly maintained. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of COPD exacerbations in the year following pulmonary rehabilitation on outcomes at 12 months.
Methods: This was a secondary analysis from a trial of home versus hospital-based rehabilitation in COPD, with 12 months of follow-up. Moderate and severe exacerbations were identified using administrative data (prescriptions) and hospital records (admissions) respectively. The impact of exacerbations at 12 months following pulmonary rehabilitation was evaluated for quality of life (Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire, CRQ), dyspnea (modified Medical Research Council, mMRC), exercise capacity (6-minute walk distance, 6MWD) and objectively measured physical activity (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, MVPA).
Results: A total of 166 participants were included, with mean age (SD) 69 (9) years and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 49 (19)% predicted. Moderate exacerbations occurred in 68% and severe exacerbations in 34% of participants. Experiencing a severe exacerbation was an independent predictor of worse 12-month outcomes for CRQ (total, fatigue and emotional function domains), mMRC, 6MWD and MVPA (all p< 0.05). Participants who completed pulmonary rehabilitation were less likely to have a severe exacerbation (29% vs 48%, p=0.02). Severe exacerbations were more likely in those with worse baseline CRQ total (odds ratio 0.97, 95% CI 0.95 to 0.99) and FEV1%predicted (0.98, 95% CI 0.96 to 0.99).
Conclusion: Severe exacerbations occur frequently following pulmonary rehabilitation and predict worse 12-month outcomes. Strategies to maintain the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation should address exacerbation prevention and management.

Keywords: COPD, exacerbations, pulmonary rehabilitation, long term maintenance, predictors

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