There is considerable controversy concerning the utility of inhaled corticosteroids for the long-term treatment of patients with COPD. Recent studies have suggested that although inhaled corticosteroids do not alter the rate of decline in lung function, they may reduce airway hyperresponsiveness, decrease the frequency of exacerbations, and slow the rate of decline in the patients' health status. The relationship between inhaled corticosteroids and subsequent risk of hospitalization or mortality remains unknown. A population-based cohort study was conducted using administrative databases in Ontario, Canada (n = 22,620) to determine the association between inhaled corticosteroid therapy and the combined risk of repeat hospitalization and all-cause mortality in elderly patients with COPD. Patients who received inhaled corticosteroid therapy postdischarge (within 90 days) had 24% fewer repeat hospitalizations for COPD and were 29% less likely to experience mortality during 1 year of follow-up after adjustment for various confounding factors. This cohort study has suggested that inhaled corticosteroid therapy is associated with reduced COPD-related morbidity and mortality in elderly patients. Although not definitive, because of the observational nature of these findings, these data provide a compelling rationale for a large randomized trial to determine the effect of inhaled corticosteroids on COPD-related morbidity and mortality.
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease