Asthma patients who are stable have a higher risk of an exacerbation if they stop their low-dose inhaled corticosteroids rather than continuing

Added April 7, 2020

Citation: Rank MA, Hagan JB, Park MA, et al. The risk of asthma exacerbation after stopping low-dose inhaled corticosteroids: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2013; 131(3): 724–9

What is this? For people with some health conditions, such as asthma, there is a need to balance the potential benefits and harms of continuing existing therapies if they are at increased risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Therefore, in people whose asthma is controlled by inhaled corticosteroids it is important to know if stopping these might lead to complications of the asthma.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for randomized trials that evaluated asthma exacerbations in patients who stopped their low-dose inhaled corticosteroids compared to those who continued. They did not restrict by type or language of publication and did their search in January 2012. They included 7 studies (1040 participants).

What works: Patients with well-controlled asthma who stop regular use of low-dose inhaled corticosteroids have an increased risk of an asthma exacerbation in the next six months, compared with those who continue.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: It is uncertain whether results are different for older and younger patients or patients with longer durations of stable asthma medication dosing.

The review contains no information on the effects on complications of COVID-19 if stable asthma patients stop or continue their inhaled corticosteroids.


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