1 Division of Critical Care & Respiratory Therapy, Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, 407, Taiwan
2 Department of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan
3 Graduate Institute of Integrated Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan
4 Acupuncture Research Center, China Medical University, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an increasingly serious global health problem that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The main pathological feature of COPD is the persistent limitation of respiratory airflow, which leads to fatigue, dyspnea and decreased physical activity. Dyspnea is a cardinal symptom of COPD and increases in severity as the course of COPD progresses. Therefore, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) recommended in 2011 that COPD assessment should be based on the combination of symptoms, lung function and the risk of exacerbations. Acupuncture has become a popular treatment for various medical conditions. Whether acupuncture can improve lung function and exercise capacity in COPD patients by attenuating the dyspnea and fatigue associated with COPD is unclear. In our review, we discuss the latest assessment criteria for COPD according to the revised GOLD guidelines and summarise the most common outcome measures used to assess COPD patients. We also discuss the results of clinical trials of acupuncture treatment for COPD. The concept of the minimal clinically important difference score of outcome measures in COPD is also addressed.
COPD is a heterogeneous, multi-component disease that is associated with significant clinical burden and increasing mortality. Dyspnea is a common symptom. Pulmonary rehabilitation and acupuncture are effective methods of treatment in COPD patients. We call for further studies into acupuncture as a treatment method to further our understanding.