Research on the peripheral effects of COPD has focused on physiological and structural changes. However, different from muscular weakness or decreased physical activity, mechanical abnormalities of the muscular system, e.g. walking, have yet to be investigated. Our purpose was to utilize the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) dataset to determine whether walking abnormalities are associated with COPD severity. To determine if walking abnormalities were independently associated with COPD severity, our analysis aimed to investigate the association of physical activity levels with COPD severity and with walking abnormalities. The NHANES III dataset that contains data for 31,000 persons that were collected from 1988 to 1994, was used to explore the association of COPD severity on gross walking abnormalities, i.e. limp, shuffle, etc. Logistic regression models were created using FEV1/FVC ratio, age, gender, BMI, and smoking status as predictors of walking abnormalities and physical activity in persons aged 40 to 90 years old. Results demonstrated a significant correlation between the presence of walking abnormalities and severe COPD (odds ratio: 1.97; 95% CI: 1.1 to 3.5). This suggests that disease severity can contribute to mechanical outcomes of patients with COPD. In addition, decreased physical activity levels were significantly associated with all COPD severity levels with the exception of mild COPD. The association between altered gait and COPD status may be due to the presence of physical inactivity that is present in patients with COPD. Future research directions should include investigating more closely the mechanical outcomes of persons with COPD.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_mannino/264/