Muscle Wasting Common in Normal-Weight COPD Patients

Researchers recommend measuring fat-free mass as part of routine COPD assessment

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Muscle wasting is common in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), even in those with a normal body mass index (BMI). Thus, the fat-free mass index (FFMI) should be considered in addition to BMI in the routine assessment of COPD, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Jorgen Vestbo, M.D., of Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues followed 1,898 COPD patients for a mean of seven years.

The researchers report that a low FFMI was prevalent even among subjects with a normal BMI. Among subjects with normal BMI, 26.1% had an FFMI in the lowest 10th percentile of the general population. The investigators found that mortality in subjects with an FFMI below the 10th percentile was 57% compared to 32% in subjects above the 10th percentile.

"Given the fact that a cure for COPD is far away, better medical care can help patients to enjoy a longer and better life," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "Assessment of muscle mass needs to be a part of the evaluation of our patients suffering from COPD. Addressing alterations in skeletal muscle function should clearly be an important part in our management of patients with COPD."

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