BACKGROUND: Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), especially when prescribed in combination with long-acting β2 agonists have been shown to improve COPD outcomes. Although there is consistent evidence linking ICS with adverse effects such as pneumonia, the complete risk profile is unclear with conflicting evidence on any association between ICS and the incidence or worsening of existing diabetes, cataracts and fractures. We investigated this using record linkage in a Dundee COPD population.
METHODS: A record linkage study linking COPD and diabetes datasets with prescription, hospitalisation and mortality data via a unique Community Health Index (CHI) number. A Cox regression model was used to determine the association between ICS use and new diabetes or worsening of existing diabetes and hospitalisations for pneumonia, fractures or cataracts after adjusting for potential confounders. A time dependent analysis of exposure comparing time on versus off ICS was used to take into account patients changing their exposure status during follow-up and to prevent immortal time bias.
RESULTS: 4305 subjects (3243 exposed to ICS, total of 17,229 person-years of exposure and 1062 non exposed, with a follow-up of 4,508 patient-years) were eligible for the study. There were 239 cases of new diabetes (DM) and 265 cases of worsening DM, 550 admissions for pneumonia, 288 hospitalisations for fracture and 505 cataract related admissions. The hazard ratio for the association between cumulative ICS and outcomes were 0.70 (0.43-1.12), 0.57 (0.24-1.37), 1.38 (1.09-1.74), 1.08 (0.73-1.59) and 1.42 (1.07-1.88) after multivariate analysis respectively.
CONCLUSION: The use of ICS in our cohort was not associated with new onset of diabetes, worsening of existing diabetes or fracture hospitalisation. There was however an association with increased cataracts and pneumonia hospitalisations.