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Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

COPD study in the news

The study linking COPD treatment with an increased risk of death is now being reported in the wider media (BBC). As reported last week, the study found an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in patients using anti-muscarinic drugs like ipratropium.

It has already been noted that this study did not correct for smoking status. Smokers are already at heightened risk of heart attacks and the cause of the observed difference in death rates may be due to factors other that drug treatment.

A second study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has also linked inhaled anticholinergics to an increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes including cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. The authors acknowledge that there are insufficient data to correct for other risk factors, including hypertension and pre-existing heart disease

Action: Worried patients should be reassured and encouraged to continue using their treatment.

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