Exercise as it relates to Disease/The effect of aerobic exercise on Emphysema
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Research shows that chronic respiratory diseases such as emphysema resulted in 6,570 deaths in Australia in 2011
What is Emphysema
Emphysema is a chronic disease of the lungs characterised by progressive airflow limitation and chronic inflammation of the airways and lungs, resulting in degradation of the lung surface There is no cure.
Signs and symptoms
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tight chest
- Sputum production
- Shortness in breath
The most common causes of emphysema are smoking, passive smoking and air pollution including exposure to harmful gasses or chemicals for a prolonged period of time however emphysema can also be caused by other factors such as genetics. These pollutants and harmful toxins travel through the respiratory system to the lungs ultimately breaking down and destroying lung tissue (alveolar). Potentially leading to lung cancer or even death.
There are multiple ways in which the severity and presence of emphysema can be diagnosed these include numerous self report questionnaires, computed tomography (CT) and spirometry. These diagnostic tools are the most common procedures used in determining a patient with emphysema.
Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Emphysema
Exercise is a key contributor in the rehabilitation of respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Depending on the severity of the condition and the individuals requirements an exercise program can help accommodate the limitations. As this disease is impacting the respiratory system most patients with the disease remain reasonably sedentary this is due to the breathlessness associated with physical movement involved in such things as daily tasks. Promoting an active lifestyle including daily walks is the first step in prescribing exercise as a treatment for emphysema. Aerobic exercise has shown to improve oxygen uptake, increase aerobic enzymes and improve capillary density.
For maximal endurance gains a supervised exercise program is recommended including lower limb exercises such as walking, cycling, climbing steps, treadmill or a combination of these. Exercise intensity and duration depend on the severity of the disease and should be tailored to the individual however existing guidelines suggest that patients with emphysema should exercise 2 to 5 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes per session over an 8 to 12 week period
Causes of exercise intolerance in emphysema
Breathing Exercises are beneficial if patient has an intolerance with exercise If smoking is the main cause cease smoking immediately if support is needed contact your local doctor or call quit line on 137848
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