COPD patients have been told to continue taking inhaled anticholinergic drugs following a study that raised concerns about their safety.
A US study pooled data from 17 trials, and analysed information from 14,783 patients and calculated the risk of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction and stroke.
Authors found that ipratropium and tiotropium, common treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), led to a 58% increase in the risk of cardiovascular death, heart disease or stroke.
Authors of the study called for a re-evaluation of the widespread use of the drugs but this claim has been dismissed by pharmaceutical firms producing the medications, as well as the British Lung Foundation and British Heart Foundation.
Judy O’Sullivan, Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘These drugs provide symptom relief for a significant number of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and therefore play an important role in improving the quality of life for those affected by the disease.
‘This recent review does not provide conclusive or robust evidence to link anticholinergic inhalers to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A robust trial to specifically address this is needed to determine if there is an increased cardiovascular risk associated with this type of medication.
‘Anyone with COPD who is benefitting from taking anticholinergic inhalers should not stop taking them based on this study alone.’
Journal of the American Medical Association (2008) 300: 1439-1450