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