long-use-of-anti-inflammatory-inhalers-enhance-risk-of-pneumonia-for-copd-patientsA well-known category of anti-inflammatory inhalers can increase the risk of pneumonia in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), says newly published research of Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The study focused on the occurrence of pneumonia in patients with COPD, who were exposed to prolong use of inhaled corticosteroid drugs, though alone or along with other drugs.

During the study, researchers reviewed 18 randomized clinical trials involving about 17,000 patients. The patients were divided into four groups: one was given inhaled corticosteroids for at least 24 weeks; second group patients recevied a placebo; third group got combination of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-antagonists; while the last group was treated with only the long-acting bronchodilator.

Results of this analysis showed that patients, who used inhaled corticosteroid, alone or in combination, reported a significant increased risk of pneumonia and serious pneumonia in comparison to other groups. However, the result was not associated with an increased risk of death.

In absolute terms, the outcome of the study revealed that on an average one in every 47 patients with COPD and using corticosteroid inhaler for at least one year may develop pneumonia.

The researchers wrote in their report that the risk of pneumonia could be specifically attributed to the long-term use of the inhaled steroid component. An assistant professor of internal medicine and lead investigator for the study, Sonal Singh said, “Clinicians should re-evaluate the benefit-harm profile of long-term inhaled corticosteroid use among patients with COPD.”

COPD is a progressive disease that currently ranks as the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. According to the National Lung Health Education Program, the disease accounts more than 120,000 deaths and costs over $30 billion annually.