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Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation & Prevention

April 2011, Volume 31 Number 2 , p 120 - 124


  • Marc Roig PhD
  • Janice J. Eng PhD
  • Donna L. MacIntyre PhD
  • Jeremy D. Road MD
  • Wendy D. Reid PhD


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has many nonrespiratory manifestations including skeletal muscle dysfunction. Deficits in muscle strength and mass in COPD patients are well reported in the literature.1,2 However, little attention has been directed at investigating muscle quality in COPD. Intramuscular fat (IF), a feature of muscle quality, has only recently been investigated in COPD. In a previous study, COPD patients had approximately 35% more IF in the thigh muscles than a group of healthy subjects matched for age, gender, and body mass index (BMI).1Intramuscular fat is associated with muscle weakness3 and self-reported mobility loss4 in older adults. Measurements of muscle strength and mass are commonly used in clinical settings and research to monitor training adaptations and health status in patients with COPD. However, recent studies suggest that deficits in muscle mass do not entirely explain the reduction of muscle strength observed in COPD patients.5 Thus, it is possible that muscle quality could partially explain strength deficits in COPD.The relationship between muscle strength, mass, and IF with specific measures of mobility has not been investigated in COPD. Midthigh muscle strength and mass are associated with mobility in older adults; however, it is unclear whether these associations remain valid for patients with COPD. Similarly, it is also unknown whether an increased IF is associated with deficits in mobility in these individuals. The primary purpose of this study was to compare measures of muscle strength, cross-sectional area (CSA), and IF of the thigh muscles, and mobility in patients with COPD and in a healthy group of subjects. The secondary purpose was to explore associations between muscle and mobility measures. It was hypothesized that people with COPD would show deficits in both muscle and mobility measures and that deficits in muscle measures would be associated with mobility impairments.Inclusion criteria for patients with COPD

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