Medical practitioners treating patients suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) need to observe a high sense of caution, as per Lung disease experts at Johns Hopkins.
COPD affects approximately 11 million Americans and a majority of the disease victims belong to the category of past or present-day smokers.
Despite the increased pneumonia risk, the team found no clear evidence that the drug therapy also pushes up rates for other steroid-related problems, such as bone fractures, nor was there an increase in deaths.
Senior study investigator and critical care specialist Eddy Fan, M.D., says the results of the analysis should not alarm patients or cause them to stop taking their medications but should spur physicians to screen and monitor their patients to find the lowest possible steroid dose that works, especially in the elderly, people with immune system problems, and people who have had multiple bouts of pneumonia and for whom repeat bacterial infection might be a life-threatening complication.
“Inhaled corticosteroids are not of equal benefit to all, and what we are seeing is that the treatment may be more harmful and pose a greater risk of harm to some,” says Fan, an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Lead author and pulmonologist M. Brad Drummond, M.D., M.H.S., said that the finding is considered to serve a reminder to patients suffering from COPD so that steps to prevent pneumonia, which doubles their risk of dying, can be taken on time.