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During exacerbations of COPD (ECOPD), respiratory frequency increases. This study tested the hypothesis that this increase can be detected at home before the patient is hospitalised.
89 patients with COPD (FEV1, 42.3% ± 14.0%; reference) who were receiving domiciliary oxygen therapy (9.6 ± 4.0 h/d) had their respiratory frequency tested at home.
In 70% of patients, mean respiratory frequency increased during the five days that preceded hospitalisation. This was not the case in patients without ECOPD (16.1 ± 4.8/min vs 15.9 ± 4.9/min).
Mean breathing rate of three different day-time periods (8:00 am to 4:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 12:00 am, and 12:00 am to 8:00 am) in one patient who required hospitalisation because of ECOPD during follow-up. An upward trend in respiratory frequency occurred prior to exacerbation. Adapted from Yanez et al.
By monitoring respiratory frequency at home in patients with COPD receiving domiciliary oxygen therapy, an increase in breathing rate can signal the onset of ECOPD. This may offer a window of opportunity for early intervention.