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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (cont.)

COPD Follow-up

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are first conducted in an outpatient setting and can be continued at home.

With pulmonary rehabilitation, improvements can occur in a patient's quality of life, well being, and health status. These improvements include a reduction in respiratory symptoms and an increase in tolerance for functional activities (for example, walking, less anxiety and depression, increased feelings of control, self-esteem).

Pulmonary rehabilitation also results in substantial savings in health care costs by reducing the use of hospital and medical resources.

A successful pulmonary rehabilitation program requires a team approach. Health care professionals who have experience in treating COPD provide individual program components.

This multidisciplinary approach emphasizes education for the patient and thier family, smoking cessation, medical management (for example, oxygen, immunization), respiratory and chest physiotherapy, physical therapy with bronchopulmonary hygiene, exercise, vocational rehabilitation, and psychosocial support.

Education is key to comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation because it prepares the patient and their family to be actively involved in the patient's care. This reliance on the patient to assume charge of his or her care is known as collaborative self-management.

Exercise training is a mandatory component of pulmonary rehabilitation. People with COPD should regularly perform aerobic exercises for the lower extremities (for example, the legs) to enhance performance of daily activities, and to reduce dyspnea (shortness of breath). Exercise training on the upper extremities (for example, the arms) improves dyspnea and allows increased activities of daily living.

Breathing retraining techniques (for example, diaphragmatic, pursed lip breathing) may improve a patient's breathing pattern and prevent airway compression.

COPD Prevention

COPD cannot be cured, but in a majority of people it can be prevented. To prevent COPD:

  • Do not smoke, and, if you do smoke, quit.
  • Eliminate exposure to smoke by not allowing people to smoke in the home and by sitting in designated nonsmoking areas when out in public. People should also avoid wood smoke and cooking smoke.
  • Limit air pollutants in the home.
  • Try to avoid contracting respiratory infections such as colds and the flu. Individuals should wash the hands frequently because viruses can be passed through hand-to-mouth contact.
  • Fight for clean air to prevent those cases of COPD due to air pollution.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2015

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