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Drugs for COPD Raise Risk of Heart Attacks

Drugs for COPD Raise Risk of Heart Attacks

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is common in older people. It is a leading cause of death in senior citizens. The primary drugs for COPD treatment are long acting bronchodilators called LABAs. These include such drugs as salmeterol and formoterol. Another widely used medication for COPD is a long-acting anti-cholinergic medication called tiotropium. It is found in the inhaler Spiriva.

Are There Serious Side Effects of Drugs for COPD?

A new epidemiological study from Canada suggests that when older patients start taking such medications, they increase their risk of trips to an emergency department or hospitalization due to cardiovascular causes. This study reignites a controversy about the cardiovascular safety of these drugs for COPD patients. Until it is resolved, physicians and patients will need to be vigilant for any symptoms that might suggest heart or other vascular complications.

Gershon et al, JAMA Internal Medicine, July 8, 2013

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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