Muscles of the upper and lower bodies, such as those of the arms, shoulders and legs, become atrophied because many of these patients are required to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle in order to reduce or prevent dyspnea.
When the muscles of the lower limbs become atrophied, this impairs the ability to walk or climb stairs. It also limits the ability to gain the exercise necessary to make the heart and lungs stronger, thus diminishing dyspnea with exertion.
Muscle wasting also increases fatigue, making it difficult to even do simple tasks. The bottom line here is that patients with COPD should, from the time of diagnosis, make an effort to stay as physically active as possible in order to prevent muscle wasting, or to slow the process thereof.
- Foschini Miranda, Eduardo, Carla Malaguiti, Paulo Henrique Marchetti, and Simone Dal Corso, "Upper and Lower Limb Muscles in Patients With COPD: Similarities in Muscle Efficiency But Differences in Fatigue Resistance," Respiratory Care, January, 2014, volume 59, number 1, pages 62-69
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