Pulmonary rehabilitation, a new program offered at New York Methodist Hospital (NYM), is a specific treatment for COPD, which addresses exercise intolerance by improving muscle strength and stamina. The primary goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to improve the efficiency of the musculoskeletal system so that the lungs are less stressed and can function for prolonged periods of time — enabling the patient to walk, exercise and perform regular activities.
Pulmonary rehabilitation has been shown to improve three important quality of life aspects in individuals with COPD: 1) exercise capacity, 2) severity of dyspnea (shortness of breath), and 3) health related quality of life. Evidence also shows that rehabilitation reduces frequency of hospitalization, cost of care, anxiety and depression, and cognitive function.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is generally indicated in individuals with moderately severe disease. Those considered to have mild disease but still complain of significant shortness of breath may also benefit from rehabilitation. Some people with very severe disease may also be eligible. Rehabilitation is generally safe, although screening for cardiovascular disease is necessary due to the increased risk of a cardiac event while exercising.
Individuals who are eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation must undergo an evaluation process including cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in order to determine their maximum exercise capacity so that an exercise regimen can be determined. Additional testing during therapy may also be necessary to follow a patient’s progress.
For more, contact the Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine at New York Methodist Hospital, at 718-780-5835.