Inhaled corticosteroids and the risk of mortality and readmission in elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Aug 15;164(4):580-4. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.164.4.2009033.


There is considerable controversy concerning the utility of inhaled corticosteroids for the long-term treatment of patients with COPD. Recent studies have suggested that although inhaled corticosteroids do not alter the rate of decline in lung function, they may reduce airway hyperresponsiveness, decrease the frequency of exacerbations, and slow the rate of decline in the patients' health status. The relationship between inhaled corticosteroids and subsequent risk of hospitalization or mortality remains unknown. We therefore conducted a population-based cohort study using administrative databases in Ontario, Canada (n = 22,620) to determine the association between inhaled corticosteroid therapy and the combined risk of repeat hospitalization and all-cause mortality in elderly patients with COPD. Patients who received inhaled corticosteroid therapy postdischarge (within 90 d) had 24% fewer repeat hospitalizations for COPD (95% confidence interval [CI], 22 to 35%) and were 29% less likely to experience mortality (95% CI, 22 to 35%) during 1 yr of follow-up after adjustment for various confounding factors. This cohort study has suggested that inhaled corticosteroid therapy is associated with reduced COPD-related morbidity and mortality in elderly patients. Although not definitive, because of the observational nature of these findings, these data provide a compelling rationale for a large randomized trial to determine the effect of inhaled corticosteroids on COPD-related morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cause of Death
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / classification
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / mortality*
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Steroids
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Steroids