A combination of long-acting anticholinergic agents (LAACs) and long-acting β2-adrenergic receptor agonist (LABA) is effective in improving lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared with monotherapy. However, evidence on whether this combination increases the incidence of stroke or other cardiac events remains sparse. The objective of the present study was to investigate the incidence of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in COPD patients treated with LAAC, LABA, or a combination of the 2.
We conducted this population-based study using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (1997–2008), identifying COPD patients and their prescribed medication from the International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision codes 490–492 or 496. A multivariate Cox proportional-hazards model was used to compare the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases over the 11-year period after treatment with LAAC or LABA only or in combination.
Of the 596 COPD patients (mean age 70 y), 196 were treated with LAAC, 318 with LABA, and 82 were treated with a combination. The overall incidence of stroke (8.53%) significantly increased in the combination group compared with LAAC (2.04%) or LABA (1.26%) only. In the Cox regression analysis, the adjusted hazard ratio over the 11-year survey period for stroke in patients treated with the combination compared with LABA only was 1.04 (95% confidence interval, 1.06–2.99) and for LAAC, it was 0.31 (95% confidence interval, 0.02–2.32).
This cohort study using a large health insurance database showed that treating patients with COPD, with a combination of LAAC and LABA, may be associated with an increased hazard of stroke compared with treatment with either agent alone. We should be particularly cautious about comedication of LAAC and LABA in patients with COPD.