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Exercise Reduces Hospital Readmission Risk due to COPD Complications

Update Date: Apr 10, 2014 10:58 AM EDT

COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, encompasses a group of progressive lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases lead to difficulty breathing often caused by blocked airways, which then increase a patients' likelihood of being hospitalized. In a new study, researchers examined the benefits of exercise on COPD complications. They found that exercise could reduce people's risk of hospital readmissions within 30 days.

For this study, the researchers examined medical data on 6,042 Kaiser Permanente patients from Southern California. The patients were aged 40 or older and had all been hospitalized with COPD between 2011 and 2012. On top of their electronic health records, the researchers had information on the patient's physical activity levels. The patients were considered ethnically diverse. 68 percent were white, 15 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic and four percent Asian/Pacific Islander.

The team found that patients who spent 150 minutes or more per week exercising were 34 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within the time frame of roughly one month. Patients who exercised moderately to vigorously for less than 150 minutes per week were 33 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital in comparison to those who did not exercise at all. The researchers concluded that adding even a little bit of daily exercise into one's routine can greatly reduce risks of COPD complications.

"The results of this study are groundbreaking because measures of physical activity were derived from routine clinical care, instead of lengthy physical activity surveys or activity devices in smaller research samples," said the study's lead author, Huong Nguyen, PhD, RN, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation reported by WebMD. "Previous research has only analyzed the relationship between physical inactivity and increased mortality rate and hospitalizations, but not 30-day readmissions in patients with COPD."

The study was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

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