Examining the role of activity, exercise, and pharmacology in mild COPD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and, although it is a preventable and treatable disease, it often remains undiagnosed in patients with mild disease. It is now evident that pathologic changes and physiologic impairment start early in disease progression, and even patients with mild airflow limitation have impairment in the form of exertional dyspnea, general fatigue, and exercise intolerance. Primary care physicians are optimally positioned to recognize these progressive activity restrictions in their patients, usually involving little more than a detailed patient history and a simple symptom questionnaire. Once a patient with persistent activity-related dyspnea has been diagnosed with COPD, bronchodilators can effectively address expiratory airflow limitation and lung hyperinflation that underlie symptoms. These pharmacologic interventions work in conjunction with nonpharmacologic interventions, including smoking cessation, exercise training, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Although the benefits of exercise intervention are well established in patients with more severe COPD, a small amount of new data is emerging that supports the benefits of both pharmacologic treatment and exercise training for improving exercise endurance in patients with mild-to-moderate COPD. This review examines the growing body of data that suggests that early identification-most likely by primary care physicians-and appropriate intervention can favorably impact the symptoms, exercise tolerance, health status, quality of life, hospitalizations, and economic costs of COPD.

DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2014.09.2808

Cite this paper

@article{Odonnell2014ExaminingTR, title={Examining the role of activity, exercise, and pharmacology in mild COPD.}, author={Denis O'donnell and Kevin B Gebke}, journal={Postgraduate medicine}, year={2014}, volume={126 5}, pages={135-45} }