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June 5, 2013

Steroids for Treatment of COPD ExacerbationsLess Is Clearly More

JAMA. 2013;309(21):2272-2273. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5644

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common, progressive lung condition, characterized by cough and dyspnea and punctuated by episodes of acute exacerbations or “lung attacks” during which these symptoms significantly increase. These lung attacks can induce severe symptoms, causing patients to seek urgent medical care and can result in respiratory failure and death. In the United States, COPD exacerbations are responsible for more than 800 000 hospital admissions each year and 143 000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of mortality.1 Furthermore, acute exacerbations accelerate decline in lung function, reduce patients' quality of life, and increase health care use (with exacerbation management accounting for up to 70% of the total direct costs of COPD management).2