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Wednesday 01 May 2002

What is the optimal treatment strategy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations?

By: Willaert W, Daenen M, Bomans P, Verleden G, Decramer M.

Eur Respir J 2002 May;19(5):928-35

The present study aims to determine whether treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations with intravenous steroids and aerosol bronchodilators (group I) is superior to oral steroids and multiple dose inhaler (MDI) bronchodilators with a spacer (group II). Group I received 40 mg methylprednisolone x day(-1) intravenously with a decrease to 20 mg after 10 days and a further decrease of 4 mg x 4 days(-1). Aerosol therapy consisted of 10 mg salbutamol and 1 mg ipratropiumbromide x day(-1). Group II received 32 mg methylprednisolone orally for 1 week followed by 24 mg x day(-1) for 4 days and a subsequent decrease of 4 mg x week(-1). Duovent MDI with a spacer was given at a dose of 1.6 mg fenoterol and 640 microg ipratropiumbromide x day(-1). In group I (n=19) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) rose from 0.82+/-0.46 to 0.91+/-0.47 L and average dyspnoea decreased from 6.0+/-1.9 to 4.1+/-2.6 within 10 days. The Chronic Respiratory Disease Index Questionnaire (CRQ) score increased from 78+/-24 to 90+/-24 points after 4 weeks. In group II (n=18) FEV1 increased from 0.70+/-0.27 to 0.90+/-0.29 L, dyspnoea regressed from 6.2+/-2.4 to 2.7+/-2.6 and CRQ from 67+/-17 to 86+/-20. Both groups showed similar results in dropout rate, length of hospital stay and patient satisfaction. In conclusion, the two treatment strategies appear equally effective in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations, although oral steroids and metered dose inhaler bronchodilators appear associated with a higher risk of hospital re-admission.

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