People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who use inhaled corticosteroids are more likely than nonusers to contract pneumonia, but it has been unclear whether they have a poorer prognosis. Findings from a new study suggest that they do not.

Researchers reviewed data from 15,768 Veterans Affairs (VA) patients hospitalized for COPD, more than 8,000 of whom were inhaled corticosteroid users. They found that the death rate in the first 90 days after hospitalization was significantly lower among people who had used an inhaled corticosteroid prior to developing pneumonia than the death rate for nonusers, 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Inhaled corticosteroid users were also significantly less likely to need mechanical ventilation during their hospitalization. These findings should help quell some concern about the use of inhaled corticosteroids by people with COPD. What remains unclear, however, is whether the medication should be used during hospitalization for pneumonia.

Source: American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine Volume 184, page 312; August 2011

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 14 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2013