Some inhaled corticosteroids for asthma, COPD safer and more effective for older adults

September 29, 2021

“We hope our findings can help healthcare providers ensure safe use of these medications in older patients.”- Dr. Tetyana KendzerskaA study led Dr. Tetyana Kendzerska reveals important new information for physicians who prescribe inhaled corticosteroids to older patients, a common daily treatment for asthma and COPD. These anti-inflammatory medications greatly relieve symptoms of asthma and COPD for certain individuals, but also increase the risk of hospitalization with serious pneumonia. 

This health records study followed nearly 100,000 individuals in Ontario over age 66 with COPD or asthma who had newly started inhaled corticosteroids. The team tracked any hospitalization due to pneumonia, or due to symptoms of asthma or COPD. 

Their findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggest that fluticasone is not as safe or effective in this population as budesonide or other types of inhaled corticosteroids. In addition, higher doses of any type of inhaled corticosteroid were not more effective in preventing hospitalizations caused by COPD and asthma. Prior to this study, little was known about the risks and benefits of different types and doses of ICS in this population.

“We hope our findings can help healthcare providers ensure safe use of these medications in older patients.”- Dr. Tetyana Kendzerska, sleep physician and associate scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.

Authors: Tetyana Kendzerska, Shawn D. Aaron, Teresa To, Chris Licskai, Matthew B. Stanbrook, Mary-Ellen Hogan, Wan C. Tan, Jean Bourbeau, Andrea S. Gershon for the Canadian Respiratory Research Network and CanBREATHE (the Canadian Best Respiratory Research Evaluation and Analyst Team of Health Experts)

Funding: Government of Ontario, Canadian Respiratory Research Network. All research at The Ottawa Hospital is also enabled by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Core Resources and data sources: ICES, Canadian Institute for Health Information

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa.   

Media Contact 
Amelia Buchanan
Senior Communication Specialist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute