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Steroid May Reduce Rate of Death From Asthma, Study Says

August 03, 2000

The low-dose steroid drugs inhaled by asthma sufferers not only prevent asthma attacks but also help those patients live longer, according to a study in today's New England Journal of Medicine. The discovery that regular use of the inhaled drugs can reduce the rate of death from asthma "has important implications for the treatment of patients with asthma," said researchers from McGill University in Montreal.

The team used a computerized database from Saskatchewan Health, the Canadian province's publicly funded insurance program, to identify asthma sufferers. When they looked at 66 people who had died from asthma and compared their characteristics with those of 2,681 people in a control group, the researchers found that the rate of death from asthma decreased by 21% for each additional canister of inhaled corticosteroids used in the previous year.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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