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Bronchodilators May Cause Increase In Heart Problems

A new study out this week in JAMA suggests that common drugs which are recommended as first-line therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death.

COPD refers to two incurable lung diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema most commonly caused by cigarette smoking.

Scientists compiled the results of clinical trials involving over 14,000 patients that compared the drugs tiotropium or ipratropium with other COPD treatments. The clinical studies followed patients for six weeks to five years.

1.8% of patients given tiotropium or ipratropium died of cardiovascular disease or had a non-fatal heart attack or stroke, compared with 1.2% of patients on other drugs, a statistically significant difference. The 53% increased risk of heart attack and the 80% increased risk of cardiovascular death were statistically significant.

Medical Analysis: This meta-analysis study raises some important questions about the safety of these common drugs. The exact etiology for the increase in cardiovascular death is unknown.

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