Researchers recommend that pulmonary rehabilitation programs for patients with COPD should include sleep assessment, according to a new study.

“Pulmonary rehabilitation programs may provide unique platforms to incorporate measures of sleep assessment that could eventually benefit this highly selected group of patients,” researchers write in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

The researchers studied 54 patients who had moderate or severe COPD (mean forced vital capacity 75.5 % predicted) who enrolled in their institution’s PR programme over a 2-year period.

Using at-home somnography, they found that 23 (52.3%) of the 44 patients who completed the study had an apnea–hypopnea index greater than five events per hour, indicating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Seventeen of these cases were newly diagnosed. According to the authors, this compares with a rate of 10% to 15% in the general population and patients with COPD in epidemiological studies.

They also found that patients generally had low sleep efficiency – the percentage of time in bed spent asleep – with 45% having sleep efficiency defined as poor.

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