From the Journals

In COPD, tai chi confers long-term benefit



Tai chi appears to be an appropriate substitute for pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and seems to confer better long-term improvement, suggests a study published online in the journal CHEST®.

tai chi being done by adults outdoors Willie B. Thomas/iStockphoto
The trial randomized 120 COPD patients to participate in 12 weeks of either pulmonary rehabilitation three times a week or tai chi instruction five times a week, according to author Michael I. Polkey, PhD, of the Imperial College London, and his colleagues. Prior to entering the trial, the patients had not been taking a bronchodilator, but they began taking the bronchodilator indacaterol 150 mcg once a day for 2 weeks before beginning either exercise intervention. The primary endpoint was improvement in St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire points. Patients provided responses to this questionnaire before starting to take indacaterol, 2 weeks after starting the bronchodilator, immediately after completing 12 weeks of tai chi or pulmonary rehabilitation with bronchodilator use, and after continuing to take indacaterol for 12 more weeks. The final 12 weeks of the study did not involve participating in a tai chi or pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Following 12 weeks of participation in tai chi or pulmonary rehabilitation, patients improved in most of the measurements taken, although no significant between-group differences were observed at that time. However, further improvements were observed in the tai chi group 12 weeks after the intervention had ended. These improvements manifested as a statistically significant 4.5 between-group difference in St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire points in favor of tai chi (P less than .001)

“This observation, supported also by improvements in dyspnea and exercise performance, suggests that tai chi could be substituted for PR [pulmonary rehabilitation] in the treatment of COPD with greater convenience for patients,” the researchers concluded.

SOURCE: Polkey MI et al. CHEST. 2018 May;153[5]:1116-24.

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