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Natural history of COPD exacerbations scrutinized

Posted Jun 17 2009 7:24pm

By Joanna Lyford

By Joanna Lyford

A study published this week offers a valuable insight into the clinical, functional, and biochemical changes that occur during the course of recovery from acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research was undertaken by a Greek team and included 30 hospitalized patients who presented with Anthonisen’s type I, ARS/ERS level II exacerbation of COPD. All patients were aged 50 years and older and had a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years.

The team evaluated patients on days 0 (admission), 3, 10, and 40, with the aim of describing the changes that accompany recovery from exacerbation. They also tested the hypothesis that, during the course of exacerbated COPD, objective improvements in functional and biochemical variables would reflect the subjective amelioration in symptoms.

The study, which is published in the journal Respiratory Medicine, found that the Total Symptom Score (and its individual components) improved significantly by day 3 and continued to improve until day 10. Meanwhile, performance status and quality-of-life did not increase significantly until days 10 and day 40, respectively.

Lung function also took longer to improve: Spirometric measures and gas exchange rose significantly by day 10 and these improvements persisted until day 40.

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