COPD Patients Benefit from Stronger Abs

Stronger abdominal muscles could reduce fatigue and increase health-related quality of life for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have chronic coughing.

Stronger abdominal muscles could reduce fatigue and increase health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have chronic coughing. These results were published in the International Journal of COPD in a study conducted by Hulya Arikan, PT, PhD, and colleagues in the Department of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.

The researchers studied 28 patients diagnosed with COPD. The patients were asked to complete the Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ) to determine “symptom-specific quality of life.” Other assessment tools included the sit-ups test, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS).

The participants were between 40 and 80 years old, and there were 22 men and 6 women. Each was referred for pulmonary rehabilitation and had been taking the same medication for three weeks. The researchers recorded “physical, physiological, and sociodemographic data,” including body mass index, smoking history, dyspnea, cough, and sputum symptoms, as well as the number of sit-ups each patient could perform in a 30-second period.

The LCQ scores were clearly correlated with the number of sit-ups the participants could perform. The researchers concluded, “In the present study, we have shown that lower cough-specific quality of life is associated with worse performance in daily living activities.” In addition, more coughing led to higher fatigue which is associated with higher levels of depression.

If increasing abdominal muscle strength and endurance could lead to less fatigue and better HRQoL, simple tests such as those performed in this study could be useful to rehabilitation specialists working with COPD patients. Controlling the symptom of chronic cough could also lead to a HRQoL.

There were, however, limitations to this study. The small sample size, for instance, is not large enough to support the conclusions. Researchers also did not use a disease-specific fatigue perception questionnaire. More study is necessary to conclusively demonstrate that increased abdominal muscle endurance and controlling chronic cough play important roles in the rehabilitation of patients with COPD.