Researchers reported this month that in men and women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, long-term use of inhaled corticosteroids may be linked to an increased risk of bone fractures.
Previous research has shown that the inhaled drugs, used to treat COPD, impact bone mineral density based on the dose of the corticosteroid, especially in post-menopausal women.
Investigators from McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital-Lady Davis Research Institute studied data from COPD patients ages 55 and older. The researchers used data from the Quebec healthcare databases, following a cohort of patients from 1990 until 2007. They specifically looked for cases of hip and upper extremity fractures, while controlling for age, sex and follow-up time.
The researchers reported that in the 240,000-patient cohort, 19,396 people experienced a fracture during a mean of 5.3 years. But the team noted that they observed a statistically significant jump in the fracture rate for people who used inhaled corticosteroids for more than four years at a dose of at least 1,000 mcg or more per day.
“Since fractures are more frequent in women than men, our study suggests that the excess number of fractures associated with ICS will be greater in women even though we did not find that the risk increase was particularly higher in women than in men,” lead researcher Samy Suissa said in prepared remarks. “Quantifying this excess number would require a larger cohort.”
The study, which was partially funded by Novartis (NYSE:NVS), had a few limitations due to the database upon which it was based. The database didn’t include information on the patients’ smoking habits, body mass index or pulmonary function – all of which could impact someone’s risk of a bone fracture.