Study Shows Benefits of Inhaled Corticosteroids in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Aug 15, 2005 - 6:01:38 PM

Researchers who designed two different studies to reduce potentially biased results among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who used inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) reported a 30 percent reduction in risk for either rehospitalization or death from the disease.

In an effort to avoid "immortal time bias," the authors created 2 matched sets of patients, based on a cohort from the United Kingdom's General Practice Database. All patients had been hospitalized for a COPD-related condition between 1990 and 1999. In the first study, each group of matched patients numbered 393 individuals. One set had been treated with ICS and the other was untreated. In the second study, also free of potential bias, a case-control analysis of 2,222 patients was designed without regard to ICS exposure status. Both resulted in approximately a 30 percent reduction in the risk for either rehospitalization or death for patients who used ICS over a one-year follow-up period.

COPD is a lung disease characterized by airflow obstruction that interferes with normal breathing. The two most frequent disease conditions that underlie COPD are severe emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Years of smoking are the primary cause for these illnesses.

According to the authors, COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, causing more than 2.5 million deaths per year. Also, the illness is the leading cause of hospitalization in the U.S., particularly among older patients.

With different study designs reducing potential bias, the study's results consistently showed an association between ICS use and the reduction of risk of hospitalization and death, the investigators concluded.

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