Pulmonary rehabilitation leads to lower mortality rates in patients who have been hospitalized with COPD, according to new research.

An analysis of data from nearly 200,000 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for COPD in 2014 showed that patients who got pulmonary rehab within 90 days of leaving the hospital were 37% less likely to die during the year following hospitalization, according to the results in JAMA.

“Sixteen million individuals in the U.S. have been told they have COPD by their doctors and there are probably millions more who have it and are undiagnosed,” said Dr. Peter Lindenauer, a professor of medicine and director of the Institute for Healthcare Delivery and Population Science at the University of Massachusetts Medical School – Baystate. “It’s the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and is characterized by flare-ups, or exacerbations, that lead to 1.5 million emergency department visits each year and 700,000 hospitalizations.” 

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