Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in severe forms, is commonly associated with systemic inflammation and balance impairment. The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact on equilibrium of stable and exacerbation (acute exacerbation of COPD [AECOPD]) phases of COPD and to investigate if there is a connection between lower extremity muscle weakness and systemic inflammation.
We enrolled 41 patients with COPD (22 stable and 19 in AECOPD) and 20 healthy subjects (control group), having no significant differences regarding the anthropometric data. We analyzed the differences in balance tests scores: Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I) questionnaire, Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, Single Leg Stance (SLS), 6-minute walking distance (6MWD), isometric knee extension (IKE) between these groups, and also the correlation between these scores and inflammatory biomarkers.
The presence and severity of COPD was associated with significantly decreased score in IKE (P<0.001), 6MWD (P<0.001), SLS (P<0.001), and BBS (P<0.001), at the same time noting a significant increase in median TUG score across the studied groups (P<0.001). The AECOPD group vs stable group presented a significant increase in high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels (10.60 vs 4.01; P=0.003) and decrease in PaO2 (70.1 vs 59.1; P<0.001). We observed that both IKE scores were significantly and positive correlated with all the respiratory volumes. In both COPD groups, we observed that fibrinogen reversely and significantly correlated with the 6MWD, and FES-I questionnaire is correlated positively with TUG test. Hs-CRP correlated reversely with the walking test and SLS test, while correlating positively with TUG test and FES-I questionnaire.
According to this study, COPD in advanced and acute stages is associated with an increased history of falls, systemic inflammation, balance impairment, and lower extremity muscle weakness.