Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine changes in the prevalence of exercise intolerance, reduced muscle strength, and fatigue and the changes in these parameters in individual patients during a 2-year follow-up study.
Methods: Ninety sarcoidosis patients (62 males and 28 females; mean age: 46.0 ± 10.2 years) participated in a 2-year follow-up study. At the baseline and follow-up measurements, patients performed a 6-min walk test and elbow flexor muscle strength, quadriceps peak torque, and hamstrings peak torque tests. Maximal inspiratory pressure was recorded. All patients completed the Fatigue Assessment Scale.
Results: Both at baseline and follow-up, a substantial proportion of the patients showed a reduced 6-minute walk test (41.6 and 34.8 %, respectively), elbow flexor muscle strength (6.7 and 14.6 %), quadriceps peak torque (21.3 and 18 %), hamstrings peak torque (13.5 and 12.4 %), and maximal inspiratory pressure (45.9 and 48.6 %). The majority of the patients reported fatigue (86 and 77 %). These physical impairments remained stable during the follow-up period. The prevalence of these physical impairments in patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis <2 years before inclusion in this study was similar to that in patients with a longer history of the disease.
Conclusions: Exercise intolerance, muscle weakness, and fatigue are frequent problems in symptomatic sarcoidosis patients with a stable and persistent character. This study highlights that beyond medical treatment a rehabilitation program should be considered as adjunct therapy in the multidisciplinary management of sarcoidosis patients even though the achieved benefit needs future studies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00854672.