Swedish researchers have come up with a new equation to calculate the energy requirement for underweight chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to help combat malnutrition—a condition that often goes hand in hand with COPD and is difficult to treat. Researchers hope the new equation—the result of a study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease—will lead to better treatment results and better quality of life for COPD patients.

The study looked at a total of 86 patients with an average age of 64. In contrast to studies in other countries, more than half the patients in this study were women, whereas previous studies have focused on men.

“We’ve come up with the only equation to date that’s specifically designed for COPD patients, and that calculates just how many calories a patient needs,” says Frode Slinde, docent at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Department of Clinical Nutrition at the University of Gothenburg. “We’ve already shown that the existing equations, designed for healthy individuals do not work well for COPD patients.”

The results of the study offer a more accurate estimate of each patient’s energy requirement and could lead to a better and more individual nutritional approach. Prior to this study, a standard calculation was used to determine a patient’s energy requirement. The researchers, however, believe that the new equation is more likely to help COPD patients stop losing weight and even put on weight.

“We can now tailor treatments and quickly evaluate the results,” says Slinde. “A better nutritional status has been linked with patients feeling better and not needing as much care as before, which could cut the cost of care to society in the long run. As far as COPD patients are concerned, a better nutritional status translates into better quality of life and a longer life.”

Source: University of Gothenburg