Current smoking and lack of physical activity among U.S. patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were both linked to limitations on physical activity and inability to work, a new government report showed.

Given those associations, health care professionals should advise COPD patients to participate in pulmonary rehabilitation and a personalized exercise regimen, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said.

In a new report, “Employment and Activity Limitations Among Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – United States, 2013,” CDC researchers analyzed data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a nationwide, self-reported telephone survey. As of 2013, 15.7 million U.S. adults (6.4%) were diagnosed with COPD by a physician.

Adults who reported having COPD were more likely than adults without the disease to report having difficulty walking or climbing stairs (38.4% vs. 11.3%), being unable to work (24.3% vs. 5.3%), and having activity limitation because of health problems (49.6% vs. 16.9%). COPD-related medical costs were estimated at $32 billion in the United States in 2010, and COPD generated an additional $4 billion in absenteeism costs.

The report also noted that smoking was associated with worse symptoms among COPD patients, although more than one-third (38.0%) of adults with COPD were current smokers. COPD was more common among current smokers (14.3%) than former smokers (7.0%) or people who never smoked (2.8%).

Among adults with COPD, nonsmokers who also reported being physically active were least likely to report all of the activity limitations, while those not physically active, regardless of smoking status, were most likely to report the activity limitations.

Read the full article here: MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly Rep. 2015;64:289-95.

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