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28/09/2009 - Press release

Moderate physical activity can help stop the evolution of COPD

Pulmonary rehabilitation through physiotherapy respiratory exercises and moderate physical exercise can help stop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Dr Josep Maria Antó, co-author of the study Relationship between physical activity and outcomes in COPD, believes that ‘the benefits of moderate physical exercise are very important for patients suffering from COPD. Activity can help stop or slow down the evolution of COPD, as well as improving patients’ quality of life, provided that it is done under medical supervision and control’.

This study was presented during the annual ERS (European Respiratory Society) Congress that was held in Vienna from 12 to 16 September. The top world specialists on respiratory diseases attended the conference.

We must stress that every year, 18.000 Spaniards die from COPD, a figure that makes it the top cause of avoidable death in Spain and the only pathology related to smoking that continues to be on the rise. According to the EPISCAN study, the prevalence of COPD in Spain currently extends to 10.2% of the population –nearly one and a half million citizens. However, this already-high figure is expected to continue increasing, since approximately one third of Spaniards smoke and, of this number, between 20 and 25% will develop this lung disease. Infradiagnosis of this respiratory disease surpasses 70%.


Improving awareness of how Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evolves lets both treatments and prevention measures be personalised. This is the premise under which a group of researchers are working at the Research Centre on Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) and the Municipal Institute on Medical Research (IMIM-Hospital del Mar), with the support of the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR), among other institutions and bodies.

One of the first achievements of this consortium, in collaboration with researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (including Milo Puhan), was the development of the ADO index (age, dyspnea and obstruction). This index lets the seriousness of the disease and the risk of mortality be measured objectively for each patient. The new feature of this new risk index is that it takes new parameters into account such as the patient’s age and dyspnea (that is, breathing difficulty) and not just the pulmonary function, what was done until now.

The new index ‘lets us more precisely predict clinical conditions and the progressive evolution of the disease’, stated Dr Judith García-Aymerich, SEPAR member and coordinator of this research team. This advance could facilitate clinical monitoring of COPD that is much more personalised and adapted to each patient.

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