Popular COPD treatment increases cardiac risk 50% or more

New research out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine shows that use of the most commonly prescribed once-a-day treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for longer than one month increases the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke by more than 50 percent.

Researchers…conducted a meta-analysis of 17 double-blind, randomized trials involving a total of 14,783 patients with COPD. Participants received treatment with inhaled anticholinergics, another form of active therapy or a placebo inhaler.

An analysis of the data showed that use of inhaled anticholinergics for more than one month significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks, or strokes in COPD patients by 58 percent.

The two most commonly used inhalers from the anticholinergic class are tiotropium bromide, marketed by Pfizer as Spiriva™, and ipratropium bromide, made and marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim as Atrovent™.

“Patients with COPD who use these inhalers are at a high risk of excess serious cardiovascular events due to their use,” said Singh, an assistant professor of internal medicine. “In absolute terms, if these inhalers are used for one year, nearly one in 40 patients using these inhalers may develop cardiac death related to the drug, and nearly one in 174 patients may develop a heart attack associated with these inhalers.”

Uh, if you’re using these inhalers – please see your doctor. Bring a copy of this post.

6 thoughts on “Popular COPD treatment increases cardiac risk 50% or more

  1. Cinaedh says:

    Thanks, Eideard!

    Due to a severe heart attack, I’ve been spraying my lungs with Atrovent, every day for about three years now.

    I guess I’ll stop.

    I also spray my lungs with Salbutamol. One wonders at the possible results — if they ever bothered to properly test that drug, too?

  2. billy says:

    Don’t stop until you talk to your doctor.
    The meta-analysis had many problems including double counting some of the patients. Most of the reported cardiovascular deaths he reported were also people who had stopped taking their medication.
    Makes you wonder who is paying Dr. Singh…

  3. eideard says:

    Billy – have a link?

    I should note for the record that Pfizer has a major facility in Reston, Virginia. “Billy” is in Reston, Virginia.

  4. BillyJo says:

    Errr – not the most rigorous scientific methodology used in this meta-analysis…and did you post when Spiriva was shown in a “proper” trial to actually REDUCE cardiac mortality?

    Good news doesn’t sell huh?

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