Use of inhaled corticosteroids and risk of fractures.
van Staa TP., Leufkens HG., Cooper C.
Treatment with systemic corticosteroids is known to increase the risk of fractures but little is known of the fracture risks associated with inhaled corticosteroids. A retrospective cohort study was conducted using a large UK primary care database (the General Practice Research Database [GPRD]). Inhaled corticosteroid users aged 18 years or older were compared with matched control patients and to a group of noncorticosteroid bronchodilator users. Patients with concomitant use of systemic corticosteroids were excluded. The study comprised 170,818 inhaled corticosteroid users, 108,786 bronchodilator users, and 170,818 control patients. The average age was 45.1 years in the inhaled corticosteroid, 49.3 years in the bronchodilator, and 45.2 years in the control groups. In the inhaled corticosteroid cohort, 54.5% were female. The relative rates (RRs) of nonvertebral, hip, and vertebral fractures during inhaled corticosteroid treatment compared with control were 1.15 (95% CI, 1.10-1.20), 1.22 (95% CI, 1.04-1.43), and 1.51 (95% CI, 1.22-1.85), respectively. No differences were found between the inhaled corticosteroid and bronchodilator groups (nonvertebral fracture RR = 1.00; 95% CI, 0.94-1.06). The rates of nonvertebral fractures among users of budesonide (RR = 0.95; 95% CI, 0.85-1.07) and fluticasone propionate (RR = 1.03; 95% CI, 0.71-1.49) were similar to the rate determined for users of beclomethasone dipropionate. We conclude that users of inhaled corticosteroids have an increased risk of fracture, particularly at the hip and spine. However, this excess risk may be related more to the underlying respiratory disease than to inhaled corticosteroid.