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Beta-Blockers May Help COPD Patients

Medication May Cut Respiratory Flare-ups in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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Second Opinion

The new study results may change practice, according to two doctors familiar with the study.

"This is a very important study." Says Don Sin, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine and a lung specialist at the University of British Columbia and the Providence Heart and Lung Institute in Vancouver, who wrote an editorial to accompany the study.

'It appears that individuals with COPD who took the beta-blockers had better outcomes than those who did not," he tells WebMD.

The study, he writes in his editorial, "has turned the story of beta-blockers in COPD into a curious case of a foe becoming a potential friend to millions of patients with COPD worldwide."

"For years, people have automatically assumed that beta-blockers were unhealthy for asthmatic and COPD patients," he says. He cautioned, however, that the study did not look at those with asthma, so that needs further study.

''Before this study, it would have been completely acceptable to not consider beta-blockers in patients with COPD," says Anthony Gerber, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, who reviewed the study and editorial for WebMD.

But now, he says, the message for doctors caring for COPD patients who also have coexisting cardiovascular disease is that a doctor should not automatically rule out beta-blockers in COPD patients.

Doctors can try a beta-blocker and monitor a COPD patient's lung function to see if the lung function is compromised with the medication, and then decide what to do accordingly, he says.

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