For patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), combining a long-acting bronchodilator with an inhaled corticosteroid reduced the number of exacerbations by 35 percent.
Peter Kardos, M.D., of the Respiratory Medicine Section of Maingau Hospital in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and three associates treated patients with moderate to severe COPD from 92 respiratory centers across Germany. All had less than a 50 percent predicted lung function capability for their age group.
The researchers treated 487 patients with salmeterol, a long-acting bronchodilator, and gave 507 a combination therapy of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate, an inhaled corticosteroid. Of the total cohort, 792 patients completed all phases of the 44-week study.
In the combined therapy group, 324 patients experienced moderate to severe exacerbations, as compared to 464 in the control group. The authors believe that this reduction in exacerbations is likely of clinical importance for patients with severe COPD.
'Exacerbations are a major cause of disease-related problems,