Call for caution in prescribing inhaled corticosteroids to COPD patients  According to lung disease experts at Johns Hopkins, there is a great need for caution by physicians in prescribing inhaled corticosteroids for patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This finding was revealed after it was found out that anti-inflammatory medications increase the risk of pneumonia by a full third.

It is presently estimated that more than 11 million Americans, most of them former or current smokers, are suffering from COPD that is characterized by the fatal and lung-diminishing conditions of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

From News-Medical.Net:

Senior study investigator and critical care specialist Eddy Fan, M.D., says the results of the analysis should not alarm patients or cause them to stop taking their medications but should spur physicians to screen and monitor their patients to find the lowest possible steroid dose that works, especially in the elderly, people with immune system problems, and people who have had multiple bouts of pneumonia and for whom repeat bacterial infection might be a life-threatening complication.

Inhaled corticosteroids are not of equal benefit to all, and what we are seeing is that the treatment may be more harmful and pose a greater risk of harm to some,” says Fan, an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“Physicians really need to strongly evaluate a patient’s individual characteristics before prescribing these steroid medications, and patients, in turn, should weigh the risks and benefits of taking the drugs, despite their proven record in providing symptomatic relief,” he says.

According to pulmonologist M. Brad Drummond, M.D., M.H.S., who led the study, “catching this bacterial infection can seriously disrupt quality of life, making it harder for COPD patients to breathe and possibly leading to hospitalization.”

Fan says that COPD is expected to become the third leading cause of death in the United States by 2020, behind heart ailments and cancer and ahead of stroke.

During the study, it was advised that physicians need to exercise a higher sense of caution than what is observed by them nowadays so that inhaled corticosteroids do not pose any danger to health of their patients. For this, patients and their families need to be made aware of the pros and cons of inhaled corticosteroid trearment.