Using Asthma Drugs Regularly May Be Harmful

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Two studies out of Cornell and Stanford revealed some of thedangers involved in taking asthma medications ? such as developinga tolerance that may lead to an increased risk for asthmaattacks as well as an increased risk for heart attacks.Researchers suggest a conflict of interest between the scientistsand the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture beta-agonistsand fund scientific research. Shelley Salpeter, MD, clinicalprofessor of medicine at Stanford University, compared resultsfrom 33 trials on the cardiac effects of beta-agonists. She concludedthat "continuous use of beta-agonist drugs causes asthmapatients to develop a tolerance for the drugs, making themless effective in true emergencies." Researchers also found thatthe use of beta-agonists has demonstrated an increased risk ofheart attacks as compared with placebo. Beta-agonists increasethe heart rate and decrease the essential potassium level, creatingthe opposite effect of the beta-blocker drugs used todecrease the risk of heart attack and congestive heart failure inpatients with heart disease. Dr. Salpeter concluded, "We worrythat physicians who recommend regular use of beta-agonistsmay actually be putting their patients at risk."