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

y associated with COPD.

At issue is not the effectiveness of long-acting bronchodilators. Though they do not slow down disease progression, such medications have long been viewed as solid first-line interventions that help improve a patient's overall quality of life. There is no cure for COPD.

Out of concern over drug-related cardiovascular implications, the study team pored through health care database records for more than 191,000 Ontario residents aged 66 and up, all of them COPD patients newly prescribed long-acting bronchodilator medication at some point between 2003 and 2009.

The investigators found that during the study time frame, 28 percent of the patients experienced a cardiovascular "event" that resulted in their being taken to an emergency department and/or being hospitalized.

Both long-acting medications were linked to a higher risk for experiencing events such as a heart attack or heart failure. Neither drug was linked, however, to a boost in the risk for an irregular heart rhythm or stroke. (Use of anticholinergics appeared to offer a measure of protection against ischemic stroke among newly prescribed users, something not found among beta-agonist users.)

In sum, the authors said the findings indicated that all COPD patients using either type of medication need to be closely monitored for signs of related heart trouble.

"The thing is that we tend to treat diseases as if they're each in a silo," said Gershon, "but in reality they all interact with one another. People with COPD have a number of co-morbidities [or co-existing conditions]. And cardiovascular disease is one of the major ones. So questions regarding risk of this kind are very important for this type of patient population."

Dr. Prescott Woodruff, author of an accompanying editorial and a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, suggested that while the fresh findings are "provocative," muc
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