Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation has become a standard of care for patients with chronic lung diseases. This document provides a systematic, evidence-based review of the pulmonary rehabilitation literature that updates the 1997 guidelines published by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
Methods: The guideline panel reviewed evidence tables, which were prepared by the ACCP Clinical Research Analyst, that were based on a systematic review of published literature from 1996 to 2004. This guideline updates the previous recommendations and also examines new areas of research relevant to pulmonary rehabilitation. Recommendations were developed by consensus and rated according to the ACCP guideline grading system.
Results: The new evidence strengthens the previous recommendations supporting the benefits of lower and upper extremity exercise training and improvements in dyspnea and health-related quality-of-life outcomes of pulmonary rehabilitation. Additional evidence supports improvements in health-care utilization and psychosocial outcomes. There are few additional data about survival. Some new evidence indicates that longer term rehabilitation, maintenance strategies following rehabilitation, and the incorporation of education and strength training in pulmonary rehabilitation are beneficial. Current evidence does not support the routine use of inspiratory muscle training, anabolic drugs, or nutritional supplementation in pulmonary rehabilitation. Evidence does support the use of supplemental oxygen therapy for patients with severe hypoxemia at rest or with exercise. Noninvasive ventilation may be helpful for selected patients with advanced COPD. Finally, pulmonary rehabilitation appears to benefit patients with chronic lung diseases other than COPD.
Conclusions: There is substantial new evidence that pulmonary rehabilitation is beneficial for patients with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. Several areas of research provide opportunities for future research that can advance the field and make rehabilitative treatment available to many more eligible patients in need.