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2 Drugs Slightly Better for COPD, Study Says

Giving patients with chronic lung disease 2 drugs provides slightly better results than a single drug, a new study suggests. The study looked at drug treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This disease includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most cases are caused by smoking. Current guidelines call for prescribing a long-acting beta agonist first. These drugs relax and widen airways. If that is not enough, guidelines suggest adding a corticosteroid. These drugs reduce inflammation. All of these drugs are inhaled. Some inhalers combine both types of drugs. The new study looked at "real world" practice. It included more than 12,000 patients over age 65. Contrary to guidelines, only 3,160 people were treated first with beta-agonists only. The other 8,712 got combination drugs. Death rates were 37.3% with beta agonists only and 36.4% with combination drugs.

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