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An overview of the benefits and drawbacks of inhaled corticosteroids in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors Sonal Singh, Yoon K Loke

Published 17 June 2010 Volume 2010:5 Pages 189—195

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S6942

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Sonal Singh1, Yoon K Loke2

1Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; 2School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England

Background: The benefit harm profile of inhaled corticosteroids, and their effect on patient oriented outcomes and comorbid pneumonia, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease remain uncertain.

Methods: An overview of the evidence on the risks and benefits of inhaled corticosteroids (fluticasone and budesonide) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from recent randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews. Observational studies on adverse effects were also evaluated.

Results: Evidence from recent meta-analysis suggests a modest benefit from inhaled corticosteroid long-acting beta-agonist combination inhalers on the frequency of exacerbations, (rate ratio [RR], 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.78 to 0.88), in improvements in quality of life measures, and forced expiratory volume in one second when compared to long-acting beta-agonists alone. On the outcome of pneumonia, our updated meta-analysis of trials (n = 24 trials; RR, 1.56; 95% CI: 1.40–1.74, P < 0.0001) and observational studies (n = 4 studies; RR, 1.44; 95% CI: 1.20–1.75, P = 0.0001) shows a significant increase in the risk of pneumonia with the inhaled corticosteroids currently available (fluticasone and budesonide). Evidence for any intraclass differences in the risk of pneumonia between currently available formulations is inconclusive due to the absence of head to head trials. Inhaled corticosteroids have no cardiovascular effects.

Conclusions: Among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, clinicians should carefully balance these long-term risks of inhaled corticosteroid against their symptomatic benefits.

Keywords: inhaled corticosteroids, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, cardiovascular events

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