Physical Activity Reduces Anxiety and Depression Risk in Patients With COPD

APRIL 20, 2017

Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd) is often linked to mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, the results of a recent study suggest that remaining physically active can help patients with COPD reduce their risk of developing these conditions.

The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in London, analyzed data on 409 patients with COPD from primary care practices in the Netherlands and Switzerland. After a 5-year follow-up period, the patients reported their comorbidities (cardiovascular, neurological, hormonal, musculoskeletal, cancer, and infectious diseases) and completed a questionnaire for mental health assessment.

The researchers found that patients who reported a high level of physical activity (PA) at the start of the study experienced an 11% reduced risk of developing anxiety and a 15% reduced risk of becoming depressed over the next 5 years compared with patients who reported low levels of PA. However, they did not observe statistically significant associations between PA and other common COPD comorbidities.

“In COPD patients, those with high PA are less likely to develop depression or anxiety over time. PA promotion programs may be considered to lower the burden of mental disorders in COPD patients,” the study authors concluded. “These findings have particular significance since mental disorders are common in patients with COPD. The prevalence of depression and anxiety is approximately 40% in COPD patients while the corresponding figure is less than 10% in the general population.”

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