Quadriceps wasting and physical inactivity in patients with COPD.

01 Nov 2012
Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Shrikrishna D, Patel M, Tanner RJ, Seymour JM, Connolly BA, Puthucheary ZA, Walsh SL, Bloch SA, Sidhu PS, Hart N, Kemp PR, Moxham J, Polkey MI, Hopkinson NS


Quadriceps weakness is an important complication of advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but few data exist concerning muscle bulk in early disease. We hypothesised that quadriceps bulk, measured by ultrasound rectus femoris cross-sectional area (USRF(CSA)), would be reduced in mild, as well as advanced, COPD compared with controls, and would correlate with physical activity. 161 patients with stable COPD and 40 healthy subjects had a measurement of USRF(CSA) and wore a multisensor armband to record physical activity. USRF(CSA) was reduced in Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) stage I patients compared with healthy subjects (p=0.0002). Stage II-IV patients had reduced USRF(CSA) (p<0.0001) compared with controls but were not significantly different from those with stage I disease. Physical activity level was reduced in stage I (p=0.002) and stage II-IV disease compared with controls. Using regression analysis, physical activity level was independently associated with USRF(CSA) in stage I (p=0.01) but not stage II-IV disease, where residual volume to total lung capacity ratio was the only independent predictor of physical activity level. Quadriceps wasting exists in patients with mild, as well as advanced, COPD, and is independently associated with physical inactivity in GOLD stage I disease. The identification of these patients may guide early lifestyle and therapeutic interventions.