Patients with COPD present peripheral muscle dysfunction and atrophy, expressed as muscle strength and endurance reduction. The goal of this study was direct dynamometric assessment of hand grip endurance and strength in relation to the stage of disease, multidimensional predictors of mortality, and 6-minute walk test (6MWT). To the best of our knowledge, there has been no previous study determining these parameters.
In this observational study, 58 consecutive outpatients with stable COPD and 25 volunteers without respiratory problems were compared. All COPD subjects underwent a comprehensive examination to determine COPD severity, prognostic scales, and 6MWT. Body composition, basic spirometric parameters, and hand grip strength and endurance were determined in all study participants.
Patients in the COPD group had a 15% decrease in maximum strength ( P=0.012) and a 28% decrease in area under the force/time curve (AUC) of the endurance test ( P<0.001) compared to the control group. Dynamometric parameters were significantly negatively associated with the stage of disease and values of multivariable prediction indexes, and positively associated with the results of 6MWT. In most cases, closer associations were found with AUC than with 6MWT and in the gender-specific groups.
Both hand grip strength and endurance are impaired in COPD patients in comparison with the control group. In particular, AUC could be considered as an attractive option not only to assess exercise capacity but also as a predictive marker with a better prognostic value than 6MWT in COPD patients. This is the first study to observe the dependence of hand grip endurance on combined COPD assessment.