Breathe Right With Antibiotics

COPD patients may benefit from taking antibiotics treatment

(RxWiki News) Coughing fits and trouble breathing may become less of an issue among COPD patients. Antibiotics could come to the rescue.

A recently published study found that an antibiotic treatment could help patients with mild-to-moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"Quit smoking to reduce your risk of COPD."

In the study, led by Carl Llor, MD, from the University Rovira i Virgila in Spain, 310 patients diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COPD were recruited from 13 care primary centers in Catalonia and randomly divided into two groups.

Participants were at least 40 years old and included both current and former smokers.

Those with bronchial asthma, cystic fibrosis, and who had used antibiotics in the two weeks before the study started were not included in the research.

The first group received a pill containing 500/125 mg of amoxicillin/clavulanate three times daily for eight days. The other group received a fake pill.

Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was receiving which pill.

On the first visit, researchers measured how well patients were able to breathe out, as well as the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP test) in their blood.

The protein appears in higher amounts when there's swelling in the body.

The researchers aimed to clinically cure or improve the patients by the end of their therapy visits at days 9 and 11.

On day 20 for the follow-up, researchers recorded how well each patient was able to breathe, the time patients went between severe episodes of coughing and breathing troubles, and the amount of CRP in their blood.

At the end of the study, 74 percent of the group who received the antibiotic treatment (or 117 patients) was considered cured at follow-up.

Among the placebo group with the fake pill, about 60 percent of the group was cured (or 91 participants).

In total, about 91 percent of the antibiotic-treated group and 81 percent of the placebo group had improved or were cured.

Researchers also found that having 40 mg/l were "found to be an excellent predictor of clinical outcome," the authors said in a press release.

Patients with less than 40 mg/l of the protein in their system for more likely to be cured without antibiotics, they found.

"We have shown that antibiotic treatment is superior to placebo in improving exacerbations in mild-to-moderate COPD," Dr. Llor said.

"Many of these patients are treated in primary care settings, and our study supports the use of antibiotics to treat mild to moderate airway obstruction, mainly in patients with elevated CRP levels."

Researchers also found that patients who took the antibiotics went longer without having a difficult time breathing, coughing, and other irritated symptoms.

The authors note a few limitations in their study, including having a small sample size and that the follow-up didn't objectively measure the resolutions of the symptoms.

The study, which was funded by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Health and European Regional Development Fund, was published online Aug. 23 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine by the American Thoracic Society. 

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Review Date: 
September 13, 2012