Are inhaled longacting β2 agonists detrimental to asthma?
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Possible adverse effects of adrenergic bronchodilators in asthma have been the subject of discussion for more than half a century, with recent intense debate about the safety of longacting β agonists (LABAs). In this Debate, we consider the issues of bronchodilator and bronchoprotective tolerance resulting from the frequent use of bronchodilators, which is noted particularly with shortacting drugs, but has also been shown to occur quicker and to a greater extent with LABAs. Increased allergen responsiveness and masking allowing inflammation to increase, while symptoms and lung function remain apparently controlled, have also been observed. Studies in which LABAs were used as monotherapy were associated with increased mortality. However, several studies have shown the benefits of adding LABAs to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Meta-analyses of asthma clinical trials involving LABAs showed that, when given with mandatory ICS, LABAs were not associated with an increased risk of death, intubations, or hospital admission for exacerbations when compared with use of the same dose of ICS only. Withdrawal of LABA therapy once symptom control is achieved is often associated with subsequent loss of symptom control. When used for appropriate indications, LABAs should be combined with ICS in one inhaler so that monotherapy is not possible.
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