BACKGROUND: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is beneficial for patients with COPD, with improvement in exercise capacity and health-related quality of life. Despite these overall benefits, the responses to PR vary significantly among different individuals. It is not clear if PR is beneficial for patients with COPD and normal exercise capacity. We aimed to investigate the effects of PR in patients with normal exercise capacity on health-related quality of life and exercise capacity. METHODS: Twenty-six subjects with COPD and normal exercise capacity were studied. All subjects participated in 12-week, 2 sessions per week, hospital-based, out-patient PR. Baseline and post-PR status were evaluated by spirometry, the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire, cardiopulmonary exercise test, respiratory muscle strength, and dyspnea scores. RESULTS: The mean FEV1 in the subjects was 1.29 ± 0.47 L/min, 64.8 ± 23.0% of predicted. After PR there was significant improvement in maximal oxygen uptake and work rate. Improvements in St George's Respiratory Questionnaire scores of total, symptoms, activity, and impact were accompanied by improvements of exercise capacity, respiratory muscle strength, maximum oxygen pulse, and exertional dyspnea scores (all P 1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC), minute ventilation, breathing frequency, or tidal volume at rest or exercise after PR. CONCLUSIONS: Exercise training can result in significant improvement in health-related quality of life, exercise capacity, respiratory muscle strength, and exertional dyspnea in subjects with COPD and normal exercise capacity. Exercise training is still indicated for patients with normal exercise capacity.
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