Older adults who receive pulmonary rehabilitation within three months of discharge from hospitalization for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are less likely to die in the coming year, a new study finds. Survival odds increase with additional sessions, say researchers.

The retrospective observational study included nearly 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries from more than 4,400 U.S. acute care hospitals. About 7% of patients who initiated pulmonary rehabilitation within 90 days had died one year later, compared with 20% of patients who initiated pulmonary rehabilitation after 90 days or not at all, reported first author Peter  Lindenauer, M.D., MSc, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and colleagues.

The researchers also evaluated the link between number of sessions completed and mortality. They found that every three additional sessions was significantly tied to a lower risk of death.

“These findings support current guideline recommendations for pulmonary rehabilitation after hospitalization for COPD,” the authors concluded.

The study was published Tuesday in JAMA Network.