September 24, 2008

COPD Drugs Linked to Increased Heart Risk

Inhaled anti-cholinergic agents by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is linked to increased risk of heart attack, U.S. researchers said.

Inhaled anti-cholinergic agents -- including ipratropium bromide or tiotropium bromide -- are widely used in patients with COPD. Inhaled tiotropium is the most widely prescribed medication for COPD, with more than 8 million patients worldwide having used it since its approval in 2002, said Dr. Sonal Singh of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Singh and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to determine cardiovascular risks of heart attacks, stroke and cardiovascular death associated with the long-term use of inhaled anti-cholinergics. After identifying and screening of 103 articles, 17 randomized trials involving 14,783 patients were analyzed.

The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated that inhaled anti-cholinergics significantly increased the risk, by 58 percent, of cardiovascular death, heart attack, or stroke -- 1.8 percent versus 1.2 percent for controls, the researchers said.