Pulmonary Rehabilitation - Live Better and Live Longer: a message from 19 Respiratory Organizations

April 07, 2021

Miami, FL April 7, 2021 - Over 16 million people in the United States have COPD1 and up to 60% of COPD cases go undiagnosed.2 According to the World Health Organization, COPD is the third leading cause of death globally.3 COPD continues to be a leading cause of disabling symptoms and suffering. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is the standard of care for persons with COPD and is associated with improved physical function, symptoms, mood and quality of life. Although PR is well established as a highly effective treatment for COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases,4,5 in the United States only 3%–4% of Medicare beneficiaries with COPD receive PR.6 Similarly, low estimates exist for the rest of the world.7

A recent study by Peter Lindenauer and colleagues found that, in persons hospitalized due to acute exacerbation of COPD, PR within 3 months of discharge versus later or no PR, was associated with a highly significant lower risk of mortality at 1 year (hazard ratio, 0.63; i.e., a 37% lower risk of death over the year following discharge).8 The study utilized claims data of 197,376 Medicare beneficiaries discharged after hospitalization for COPD.8 The findings support PR as a high priority following hospitalization for COPD.

Patients suffering from COPD should know that PR not only has potential for helping them feel better and be more independent, but also live longer. We are asking for your support in communicating these important findings of improved survival after PR to providers and patients. Thank you in advance for your help and collaboration.

  • Allergy & Asthma Network
  • Alpha-1 Foundation
  • American Association for Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • American Association for Respiratory Care
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
  • American Lung Association
  • American Thoracic Society
  • CHEST/American College of Chest Physicians
  • COPD Foundation
  • Dorney-Koppel Foundation
  • LAM Foundation
  • Lung Transplant Foundation
  • phaware Global
  • Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
  • Respiratory Compromise Institute
  • Respiratory Health Association
  • Right2Breathe
  • US COPD Coalition

  1. COPD. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 6, 2018. Accessed December 28, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html
  2. Martinez C, Mannino DM, Jaimes FA, et al. Undiagnosed obstructive lung disease in the U.S. Ann ATS. 2015;(12):1788-1795.
  3. World Health Organization. The top 10 causes of death. Published December 9, 2020. Accessed February 7, 2021. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death.
  4. Spruit MA, Singh SJ, Garvey C, et al. ATS/ERS Task Force on Pulmonary Rehabilitation. An official ATS/ERS statement: key concepts and advances in pulmonary rehabilitation. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013;188(8):e13-e64. doi: https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201309-1634ST
  5. McCarthy B, Casey D, Devane D, Murphy K, Murphy E, Lacasse Y. Pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2(2):CD003793. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003793.pub3
  6. Nishi SP, Zhang W, Kuo YF, Sharma G. Pulmonary rehabilitation utilization in older adults with COPD, 2003 to 2012. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2016;36(5):375-382. doi: https://doi.org/10.1097/HCR.0000000000000194
  7. Desveaux L, Janaudis-Ferreira T, Goldstein R, Brooks D. An international comparison of pulmonary rehabilitation: a systematic review. COPD. 2015;12(2):144-153. doi: https://doi.org/10.3109/15412555.2014.922066
  8. Lindenauer PK, Stefan MS, Pekow PS, et al. Association between initiation of pulmonary rehabilitation after hospitalization for COPD and 1-year survival among Medicare beneficiaries. JAMA. 2020;323(18):1813-1823. doi: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.4437