Background and aims: To investigate the relationship between disease-related factors and balance, and a history of falls in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Thirty-six patients with COPD and twenty healthy individuals were studied. Pulmonary function (pulmonary function test), hypoxemia (analysis of arterial blood gases), history of falls and tripping (number of falls and tripping in the past year), balance (Berg's Balance Scale-BBS), quadriceps femoris muscle strength (manual muscle test), and exercise capacity (6-minute walking test-6MWT) were assessed.
Results: BBS scores were significantly different between groups (p=0.001). BBS scores, frequency of falls and tripping were correlated in COPD patients (p ≤ 0.01). BBS score and frequency of falls were correlated with dyspnea and peripheral oxygen saturation measured after the 6MWT, partial arterial oxygen pressure, and arterial oxygen saturation values in COPD patients (p<0.05).
Conclusions: According to our results, hypoxemia, dyspnea and fatigue are disease- related factors, which are related with balance impairment and falls in COPD patients. For this reason, we suggest that assessment of and training to improve balance impairment among the elderly with COPD should be a component of pulmonary rehabilitation programs in clinical practice.