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JAMA Intern Med 173:1175-1185.
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada; Child Health Evaluative Sciences, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
IMPORTANCE Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common and deadly disease. Long-acting inhaled β-agonists and anticholinergics, first-line medications for COPD, have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes. When choosing between the medications, patients and physicians would benefit from knowing which has the least risk.
OBJECTIVE To assess the association of these classes of medications with the risk of hospitalizations and emergency department visits for cardiovascular events.
DESIGN We conducted a nested case-control analysis of a retrospective cohort study. We compared the risk of events between patients newly prescribed inhaled long-acting β-agonists and anticholinergics, after matching and adjusting for prognostic factors.
SETTING Health care databases from Ontario, the largest province of Canada, with a multicultural population of approximately 13 million.
PARTICIPANTS All individuals 66 years or older meeting a validated case definition of COPD, based on health administrative data, and treated for COPD from September 1, 2003, through March 31, 2009.
EXPOSURE New use of an inhaled long-acting β-agonist or long-acting anticholinergic.
MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURES An emergency department visit or a hospitalization for a cardiovascular event. RESULTS Of 191 005 eligible patients, 53 532 (28.0%) had a hospitalization or an emergency department visit for a cardiovascular event. Newly prescribed long-acting inhaled β-agonists and anticholinergics were associated with a higher risk of an event compared with nonuse of those medications (respective adjusted odds ratios, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.12-1.52; P < .001] and 1.14 [1.01-1.28; P = .03]). We found no significant difference in events between the 2 medications (adjusted odds ratio of long-acting inhaled β-agonists compared with anticholinergics, 1.15 [95% CI, 0.95-1.38; P = .16]).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Among older individuals with COPD, new use of long-acting β-agonists and anticholinergics is associated with similar increased risks of cardiovascular events. Close monitoring of COPD patients requiring long-acting bronchodilators is needed regardless of drug class.
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