In 2020, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was the fifth leading cause of death in the United States excluding COVID-19, and its mortality burden has been rising since the 1980s. Smoking cessation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive ventilation, and lung volume reduction surgery have had a beneficial effect on mortality; however, until recently, the effects of pharmacologic therapies on all-cause mortality have been unclear. Inhaled pharmacologic treatments for patients with COPD include combinations of long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonists (LAMAs), long-acting-β2-agonists (LABAs), and inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). The recent IMPACT and ETHOS clinical trials reported mortality benefits with ICS/LAMA/LABA triple therapy compared with LAMA/LABA dual therapy. In IMPACT, fluticasone furoate/umeclidinium/vilanterol therapy significantly reduced the risk of on-/off-treatment all-cause mortality vs umeclidinium/vilanterol (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.99; P=.042). The ETHOS trial found a reduction in the risk of on-/off-treatment all-cause mortality in patients treated with budesonide/glycopyrrolate/formoterol vs glycopyrrolate/formoterol (hazard ratio, 0.51 [0.33 to 0.80]; nominal P=.0035). Both trials included populations of patients with symptomatic COPD at high risk of future exacerbations, and a post hoc analysis of the final retrieved vital status data suggested that the observed mortality benefits are conferred by the ICS component. In conclusion, triple therapy reduces the risk of mortality in patients with symptomatic COPD characterized by moderate or severe airflow obstruction and a recent history of moderate or severe exacerbations. This benefit is likely to be driven by reductions in exacerbations. Future research efforts should focus on improving the long-term prognosis of patients living with COPD.
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Mintz, Matthew; Barjaktarevic, Igor; Mahler, Donald A.; Make, Barry; Skolnik, Neil; Yawn, Barbara; Zeyzus-Johns, Bree; and Hanania, Nicola A., "Reducing the Risk of Mortality in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease With Pharmacotherapy: A Narrative Review" (2023). Abington Jefferson Health Papers. Paper 74.