Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Review: anticholinergics but not β2 agonists reduce exacerbations requiring hospital admission and respiratory deaths in COPD

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

 Q How effective are anticholinergics and β2 agonists for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Clinical impact ratings GP/FP/Primary care ★★★★★★☆ IM/Ambulatory care ★★★★★★☆ Respirology ★★★★★★☆


Embedded ImageData sources:

Medline, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, and Cochrane databases (to December 2005); US Food and Drug Administration website; and references of identified reviews.

Embedded ImageStudy selection and assessment:

randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in any language that compared anticholinergics or β2 agonists with placebo or with each other; had ⩾3 month follow up; and reported COPD exacerbations requiring study withdrawal or hospital admission, or respiratory death. 22 RCTs (n = 15 276, mean age range 60–64 y) with mean 20 month follow up (range 3–60 mo) met the selection criteria. Methodological quality of individual studies was based on randomisation procedure and allocation concealment, blinding of patients and providers, reporting of withdrawals and dropouts, and intention to treat analysis.

Embedded ImageOutcomes:

exacerbations causing withdrawal from the study, severe exacerbations requiring hospital admission, and respiratory death.


Anticholinergics used were ipratropium and tiotropium. β2 agonists used …

View Full Text


  • For correspondence: Dr S R Salpeter, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. salpeter{at}

  • Source of funding: no external funding.