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Eur Respir J. 2013 Aug;42(2):444-53. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00081512. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Effects of inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with interstitial lung disease.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary Diseases, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Munich, Germany.


Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended for patients with chronic lung diseases including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis according to international guidelines. However, data for patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) are limited. We examined the effect of an inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation on functional status and quality of life in ILD patients. We evaluated 402 consecutive ILD patients who were admitted to a specialised pulmonary rehabilitation centre (1999-2010). All patients performed a standardised pulmonary rehabilitation programme including pulmonary function tests, blood-gas analysis, 6-min walk test (6MWT), dyspnoea rating and health-related quality of life questionnaire (the 36-item short-form health survey; SF-36) on admission and discharge. Mean duration of pulmonary rehabilitation was 30±1 days. 6MWT distance improved by 46±3 m (308±6 m versus 354±6 m; p<0.001). Dyspnoea rating did not change. Lung function testing showed marginal improvement of vital capacity (+1±0%; p = 0.002). The SF-36 questionnaire demonstrated an increase in all eight sub-scores as well as in the physical and mental health summary scores (physical 6±1 points, p<0.001; mental health 10±1 points, p<0.001). Moreover, patients with signs of pulmonary hypertension also benefited from pulmonary rehabilitation. In a large cohort of patients with ILD, pulmonary rehabilitation had a positive impact on functional status and quality of life. Considering the limited treatment options in this patient population pulmonary rehabilitation appears to be a valuable adjunct therapy.

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