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Certain COPD Meds Might Raise Heart Risks, Study Says
Date:5/21/2013

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Long-acting inhaled medications used by millions of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may raise the risk of cardiovascular complications among older patients, a new large Canadian study reveals.

The finding centers around patients over age 65 who are prescribed long-acting bronchodilators -- either anticholinergics (such as Spiriva) or beta-agonists (such as Serevent). Both medications are commonly used to relieve the shortness of breath that characterizes moderate to severe COPD and to improve lung function.

The team found that compared with patients who do not use either medication, those using either of these bronchodilators face a notably higher risk for experiencing a cardiac event, such as heart attack or heart failure.

"The bad news is that, although everybody's different, there's a chance that by using these long-acting bronchodilators you may have a mild to moderate risk for cardiovascular problems," said study lead author Dr. Andrea Gershon, a scientist and respirologist in the department of medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto. "The good news is that each of the medications we looked at can also help you if you have COPD."

Gershon said she wouldn't recommend a medication if she didn't think that the benefits outweighed the risks. "And I do. But at the same time I feel the choice has to be made on an individual basis," she said. "And there's an obligation to inform our patients that the risk is there, based on the best evidence we have available, which is this study."

The study appears in the May 20 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

More than one-quarter of Americans over the age of 35 have COPD, which is the nation's number one cause of hospitalization due to chronic illness and the third most common cause of death. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are commonl
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