COPD Fatigue Predicts Hospital Visits

Patients with higher levels of fatigue are hospitalized more often

(RxWiki News) One of the most common symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is fatigue, or low energy. If you have COPD, telling your doctor how fatigued you are could keep you out of the hospital.

Low energy levels, or patients' feelings of fatigue, may predict the risk of hospitalization in people with COPD.

This could help doctors reduce COPD-related hospitalizations, which could improve quality of life for COPD patients and reduce health care costs.

"Tell your doctor how you feel if you have COPD."

In a recent study, Dr. Johanna Susan Paddison, of Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues wanted to investigate the importance of fatigue in COPD, and whether fatigue could predict the risk of hospitalization.

The most common symptom of COPD is breathlessness. After that, fatigue is the most common. Fatigue can be both mental and physical. A fatigued patient could be lacking energy or finding it hard to concentrate.

From their study, Dr. Paddison and colleagues found that levels of fatigue are associated with the severity of COPD.

COPD patients with the highest levels of fatigue had the highest risk of being hospitalized.

Patients with the most severe fatigue (the top third of patients) were 13.6 times more likely to be hospitalized than those with the lowest levels of fatigue (the lowest third of patients).

The results also show that higher levels of fatigue were associated with longer hospital stays.

According to Dr. Paddison, "There has been little research into the clinical significance of reports of fatigue. Our study has helped to show that patient’s experiences of fatigue could be used as a predictor of hospital admissions. As hospitalizations for COPD can impact upon quality of life and have economic consequences, the results of this study have significant implications for the management of COPD."

For their study, the researchers asked 83 patients to fill out a questionnaire about their feelings of fatigue. The researchers also measured levels of breathlessness and airway obstruction.

The study is published in the European Respiratory Journal.

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Review Date: 
June 20, 2012