Over 16 million people in the US have COPD,1 and up to 60% go undiagnosed.2 COPD is the third leading cause of death globally.3 COPD and fibrotic lung disease, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), have no known cure and are associated with significant suffering and disabling symptoms.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is the standard of care for persons with COPD and IPF, and it is associated with improved physical function, symptoms, mood, and quality of life. Although PR is well-established as a highly-effective treatment for COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases,4,5 in the US, only 3—4% of Medicare beneficiaries with COPD receive PR.6 Similarly low estimates exist for the rest of the world.7
Emerging data suggests a further benefit of PR: a reduction in mortality. A study by Lindenauer and colleagues found that in persons hospitalized due to exacerbation of COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation within three months of discharge vs. later or no PR was associated with a highly-significant lower risk of mortality at one year (hazard ratio, 0.63; i.e., a 37% lower risk of death over the year following discharge).8 The study utilized claims data of 197,376 Medicare beneficiaries discharged after hospitalization for COPD.
In persons with fibrotic interstitial lung disease (ILD), including IPF, Sabina Guler and colleagues demonstrated that those with greater improvement in exercise performance following PR (assessed by six-minute walk distance) had improved survival. Those persons with ILD who participated in at least 80% of planned PR sessions had a 33% lower risk of death.9 Both studies support PR as a high priority for persons with COPD and fibrotic ILD.
Patients suffering from COPD and fibrotic ILD should know that pulmonary rehabilitation not only has potential for helping them feel better and being more independent, but also living longer. We are asking for your support in communicating these important findings of improved survival after PR to providers and patients. Thank you in advance for your help and collaboration.
- Allergy & Asthma Network
- Alpha 1 Foundation
- American Association of Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- American Association for Respiratory Care
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
- American Lung Association
- American Thoracic Society
- CHEST/American College of Chest Physician
- COPD Foundation
- Dorney-Koppel Foundation LAM Foundation
- Lung Transplant Foundation
- phaware Global
- Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation
- Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
- Respiratory Compromise Institute
- Respiratory Health Association
- US COPD Coalition