Background: Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are widely used in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), despite the known risk of severe adverse effects including pulmonary infections. Research Question: Our study investigates the risk of acquiring a positive Haemophilus influenzae airway culture with use of ICS in outpatients with COPD. Study Design and Methods: We conducted an epidemiological cohort study using data from 1 January 2010 to 19 February 2018, including 21,218 outpatients with COPD in Denmark. ICS use 365 days prior to cohort entry was categorised into low, moderate, and high, based on cumulated ICS dose extracted from a national registry on reimbursed prescriptions. A Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to assess the future risk of acquiring H. Influenzae within 365 days from cohort entry, and sensitivity analyses were performed using propensity score matched models. Results: In total, 801 (3.8%) patients acquired H. Influenzae during follow-up. Use of ICS was associated with a dose-dependent increased risk of acquiring H. Influenzae with hazard ratio (HR) 1.2 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.9−1.5, p value = 0.1) for low-dose ICS; HR 1.7 (95% CI 1.3−2.1, p value < 0.0001) for moderate dose; and HR 1.9 (95% CI 1.5−2.4, p value < 0.0001) for high-dose ICS compared to no ICS use. Results were confirmed in the propensity-matched model using the same categories. Conclusions: ICS use in outpatients with COPD was associated with a dose-dependent increase in risk of isolating H. Influenzae. This observation supports that high dose ICS should be used with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3539
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022


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