Background: Patients with COPD have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Despite the clinical benefits of long-acting beta-agonist agents in the treatment of COPD, patients may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular toxicity, including tachyarrhythmia due to beta-adrenergic stimulation.
Objective: To evaluate the cardiovascular safety of salmeterol in COPD patients by conducting a pooled analysis of cardiovascular safety data.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, parallel group, multiple-dose studies, which included salmeterol, 50 micro g bid, and placebo arms.
Study selection: Seven of a total of 17 studies met the predefined inclusion requirements and were pooled. A total of 1,443 patients received placebo, while 1,410 patients received salmeterol, 50 micro g bid. The median duration of treatment was 24 weeks (range, 12 to 52 weeks).
Results: Treatment with salmeterol, 50 micro g bid, showed no increased risk of cardiovascular adverse events (AEs) compared with placebo (relative risk, 1.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 1.3; p = 0.838). Both groups had a similar incidence of cardiovascular events (8%), including cardiovascular deaths. The incidence of cardiovascular AEs increased with age, concurrent cardiovascular conditions, and treatment with antiarrhythmic/bradycardic agents, although increases were comparable in both treatment groups. There were no episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia, and no clinically significant differences were observed in 24-h heart rate, ventricular and supraventricular ectopic events, qualitative ECGs, QT intervals, or vital signs between the salmeterol, 50 micro g bid, group and the placebo group. Similar findings were observed when patients were stratified for age of > 65 years or the known presence of cardiovascular disease.
Conclusions: Treatment with salmeterol, 50 micro g bid, does not increase the risk of cardiovascular AEs in this population of COPD patients compared with placebo.