Purpose: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has been shown to be an effective intervention in the management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but its role in elderly patients is not clearly defined. We investigated the effectiveness of rehabilitation in elderly patients with COPD.
Methods: Patients underwent multidisciplinary PR in a hospital outpatient gym twice weekly for 6 weeks. Lung function, shuttle walk distance, breathlessness (using a 10-point Borg scale), and responses to the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ) were assessed before and after rehabilitation.
Results: Patients (N = 200; 131 male) were divided into 2 groups: group A, those 70 years or older (n = 102, mean age 76 years); and group B, those younger than 70 years (n = 98, mean age 61.4 years). Shuttle walk distance increased significantly (P < .05) by a mean 33.6 m in group A and 50.1 m in group B. Borg score significantly improved (P < .05) by a mean -0.35 in both groups. There were significant improvements in CRQ components within the older and younger groups: dyspnea 0.9 and 1.1; fatigue 1.0 and 1.1; emotion 0.7 and 0.8; and mastery 1.0 and 1.2; respectively. Differences in improvement in CRQ components between groups A and B were not significantly different.
Conclusion: Elderly patients with COPD gain similar improvements from PR as younger patients and should not be excluded from rehabilitation based on age alone.