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Thorax. 2010 Aug;65(8):719-25. doi: 10.1136/thx.2010.136077.

Cardiovascular events in patients with COPD: TORCH study results.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University Hospital Aintree, Longmoor Lane, Liverpool, UK.



Previous studies have suggested that long-term use of beta agonists to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may increase the risk of cardiovascular adverse events. In this post hoc analysis, data from the TOwards a Revolution in COPD Health (TORCH) study were used to investigate whether use of the long-acting beta(2) agonist salmeterol over 3 years increased the risk of cardiovascular adverse events in patients with moderate to severe COPD.


TORCH was a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study conducted at 444 centres in 42 countries. Patients (n=6184; safety population) received twice daily combined salmeterol 50 microg plus fluticasone propionate 500 microg (SFC), either component alone, or placebo. Adverse events were recorded every 12 weeks for 3 years.


The probability of having a cardiovascular adverse event by 3 years was 24.2% for placebo, 22.7% for salmeterol, 24.3% for fluticasone propionate and 20.8% for SFC. Although a history of myocardial infarction doubled the probability of cardiovascular adverse events, the event rates remained similar across treatment groups.


Post hoc analysis of the 3-year TORCH dataset showed that salmeterol alone or in combination (SFC) did not increase the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with moderate to severe COPD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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