Little-known, safer options for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. And now, things just got even trickier for anyone living with COPD. Stunning new research shows that men and women who take commonly prescribed COPD drugs run nearly a one-third increased risk of suffering a serious cardiac event.

Fortunately, you can avoid taking these drugs. There is a proven, safe, and effective way to treat COPD. And it’s even FDA approved. I’ll tell you more about this powerhouse COPD treatment in a moment.

But first, let me back up.

Last month, Canadian researchers published an important study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The study linked both inhaled long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) drugs and long-acting anti-cholinergic drugs with an increased risk of cardiac events.

For the study, researchers followed more than 191,000 patients with COPD. All the patients suffered from COPD for at least five years. And all the patients were older than 66 years.

Of these patients, 53,532 (28 percent) were admitted to the hospital for heart failure, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, or angina pain.

They found that patients who just started the medications ran the greatest risk. In fact, the events happened most often within two to three weeks of starting the drugs.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a flash-in-the-pan study. And it’s not even the first major study to link long-acting bronchodilators with cardiovascular events. Researchers also found a link in a large study called the POET-COPD trial. And that same research team had found the same link in an even earlier pilot study.

In an editorial published with the new study, Dr. Prescott G. Woodruff of the University of California, San Francisco didn’t sound too bothered by the new findings.

He said, “these drugs are considered ‘mainstays’ of COPD management… and no other pharmacological approaches slow the rate of progression of a disease that is the third most common cause of death in many countries worldwide.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Woodruff failed to mention the non-drug treatment that does slow the progression of the disease. And it’s both safe and effective. And it is available in “many countries worldwide,” as I documented in my Insider’s Cures newsletter last month.

In their report, the Canadian researchers sounded slightly more concerned than Dr. Woodruff. They stated, “these results support the need for close monitoring of all patients with COPD who are given long-acting bronchodilators, regardless of drug class.”

But this is a very loose recommendation. It means that monitoring will remain the treating physician’s responsibility. And not much will change. Too many men and women will suffer cardiac events soon after starting these drugs.

Other researchers are now looking into the safety of COPD drugs not included in the Canadian study.

For example, the Spiriva HandiHaler and the Respimat Soft Mist Inhaler are both long-acting beta-agonist drugs. On-going studies are now examining their safety. I suspect, they may uncover similar results. Of course, as the results come in, I will keep you updated.

In the end, what does all this research mean for you?

Hopefully, it makes you very cautious about taking a drug to treat COPD.

In the 1970s, many young people who used inhalers for asthma died. Propellants used in inhalers also caused problems back then. And not much has changed. Yes, we have newer inhaled drugs. But even the new drugs cause major problems.

Fortunately, you do have safer options. However, very few people realize this.

As I said in a recent issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, acupuncture is a powerhouse treatment for COPD. And for other respiratory ailments as well. (To learn more about this natural powerhouse treatment for COPD, become a subscriber to my newsletter. You can get started here.)

In fact, the problems with COPD drugs in the 1970s are one major reason why the FDA re-classified acupuncture 15 years ago. They changed it from an “experimental” treatment. To an “approved” therapeutic approach.

So, here’s my question…

Why are we still using dangerous drugs, instead of the FDA-approved alternative treatment that is both effective and safe?


1. “Cardiovascular Safety of Inhaled Long-Acting Bronchodilators in Individuals With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” JAMA Intern Med May 2013;():1-9