Drug used to treat COPD increases mortality

The drug ipratropium bromide (Atrovent, Combivent) significantly raised the risk of mortality by cardiovascular death in patients undergoing COPD treatment, according to researchers. In addition, exposure to the medication theophylline was associated with an increased risk of respiratory death, but not cardiovascular death.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published the study findings in the September 16, 2008 issue. The findings are the result of a large-scale study of U.S. Veterans Health Administration health care system patient data.

Researchers followed a cohort of patients enrolled in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration health care system to assess mortality rates at one year.

It remains unclear if the elevated risk applies to women or patients with longstanding or severe COPD. The researchers found a 34 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality in patients using the medication to relieve the symptoms of COPD.

On the other hand, inhaled corticosteroids, the researchers found, were associated with a 20 percent decrease in cardiovascular and all cause mortality.

- see the Annals of Internal Medicine release
- read the Medpage Today article
- find the study abstract at PubMed