Inhaled Steroids May Slow COPD
Use of Inhaled Steroids May Help Preserve Lung Function
Oct. 30, 2003 -- Treating people with COPD (chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease) with inhaled steroids may help slow the loss of lung
function caused by the disease by up to 30%.
Researchers say the use of inhaled steroids in COPD treatment
is controversial but the results of a new study show that long-term use of the
drugs may help slow the progression of the disease.
COPD is an irreversible disease that gradually causes the lungs
to deteriorate, making it progressively difficult to breathe. Smoking is almost
always the cause of COPD.
Although the effect of inhaled steroids on reducing the rate of
lung decline is much less than the effect of quitting smoking, researchers say
many people with COPD refuse to stop smoking and may benefit from use of
Inhaled Steroids Stall Lung Decline
The study of more than 3,700 patients with COPD looked at the
results of eight clinical trials on the use of inhaled steroids for more than
two years. The study appears in the November issue of the journal
Researchers found that use of the drugs slowed the rate of
decline in a major measure of lung function known as forced expiratory volume
(FEV), which is the amount of air a person can exhale in one second.
Compared with people not taking inhaled steroids, nonsmokers
with COPD taking the drugs for at least two years experienced a 26% to 33%
lower rate of lung decline -- smokers had a 13% to 17% reduction. Higher doses
of the drugs were associated with greater benefits.
In comparison, smoking cessation is associated with a 50%
reduction in lung deterioration in people with COPD.
But researchers found those who continued to smoke during COPD
treatment with inhaled steroids still reaped some of the benefits of the