Several studies have suggested that the effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rehabilitation programs tend to attenuate with time. We aimed to investigate the effects of supplemental exercise sessions following an initial 7-week COPD rehabilitation program with regard to exercise capacity and disease-specific quality of life (QoL).
We performed a 7-week COPD rehabilitation program in 140 COPD patients. Patients (n = 118) who completed the initial program were randomised for additional six supervised supplemental exercise sessions or three follow-up examinations without exercise. Both groups were followed for 12 months. Primary end-points were QoL as measured by the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire total score and exercise capacity as measured by the endurance shuttle walking time (ESWT).
A marked increase in ESWT (from 193 to 921 s) and a moderate decrease in total SGRQ score (2.5 points) was obtained during the initial 7 weeks rehabilitation program. The ESWT declined moderately and was 645 s at week 52 in both the intervention and control group. Unexpectedly, QoL increased slightly in the control group, while it decreased slightly in the intervention group. However, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in the observed changes in QoL or ESWT at any time point.
In conclusion, a program of six supplemental exercise sessions following the initial 7-week COPD rehabilitation program did not have any effect on ESWT or QoL during a 1-year follow-up.
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