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Pulmonary rehabilitation: Overview and future directions

Elaine Bevan-Smith and Maria Eurton explain the importance of this intervention for patients with COPD
Exercise is a key part of pulmonary rehabilitation, with both physical and mental benefits for the patient -

In the light of a recently published statement about pulmonary rehabilitation,1 this article provides an introduction to pulmonary rehabilitation, an overview of its current status in the UK and its future direction.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the top three leading causes of death worldwide.2 It affects around 3 million people in the UK, of whom an estimated 2 million are undiagnosed.3 COPD is the second largest cause of emergency admissions in the UK and is responsible for 1.4 million GP consultations annually.

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Nurses working within primary care and the community are well placed for identifying patients with COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions who are eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation and referring them to a local programme. The offer of a pulmonary rehabilitation referral is a requirement of the annual COPD review delivered in primary care; however, a referral can be made at any time including after an exacerbation of the condition.

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