MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience fewer exacerbations when treated with inhaled corticosteroids compared with placebo, according to a meta-analysis reported in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Since the use of inhaled corticosteroids for treatment of COPD remains controversial, Gerald Gartlehner, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues searched medical databases and libraries for double-blinded, randomized controlled trials that examined the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of inhaled corticosteroids on COPD outcome.
The combined data from 13 studies show that COPD patients treated with inhaled corticosteroids experienced fewer exacerbations than those treated with placebo (relative risk, 0.67). Mortality was unchanged and quality of life, functional capacity and respiratory tract symptoms were mixed. The authors did note a dose-related risk of cataracts and open-angle glaucoma.
"Overall, the risk-benefit ratio appears to favor inhaled corticosteroid treatment in patients with moderate to severe COPD," the authors conclude. "Existing evidence does not indicate a treatment benefit for patients with mild COPD."