Relevance of nutritional support and early rehabilitation in hospitalized patients with COPD

Ghislaine Gayan-Ramirez


Exacerbation of COPD is associated with a worsening of lung function and symptoms, and a serious loss in functional status and health related quality of life. It also represents the major cause for emergency hospitalization in COPD patients which places the patient at risk for developing further muscle weakness. Actually, loss of muscle function developed fast and continued to decrease over time during hospitalization and may be further compromised when disease deterioration would require the use of ventilator support. Exacerbations have long term consequences on physical performance, physical activity and health-related quality of life as recovery of skeletal muscle function is slow and incomplete and may even be compromised in case of re-exacerbation. Factors such as bed rest, reduced physical activity, hypoxia, inflammation, drug treatment and negative protein balance due to insufficient dietary intake and increased resting energy expenditure are all potential contributors to skeletal muscle weakness during exacerbation. Because low levels of physical activity and poor physical performance are predictor of hospital re-admission and are associated with lower survival in these patients, interventions to prevent the additional loss of muscle function during exacerbation or to hasten functional recovery have been recently explored. This review focuses on the knowledge regarding the potential benefit of early rehabilitation and nutritional supplementation as modifiable factors susceptible to ameliorate muscle weakness during exacerbation in hospitalized COPD patients.