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Your lungs or your heart

If you have COPD your lungs can close down, so you carry an inhalant like Spiriva to open them back up. A new study says that's increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. Significantly.

COPD illustration from NIHIf you have COPD your lungs can close down, so you carry an inhalant like Spiriva to open them back up. (Picture from the National Institutes of Health.)

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that's increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. Significantly.

How significantly? Try 58%.

These are not the only drugs you can use. Advair is an example of an inhaled steroid. Albuterol is an example of a bronchodilator. Soccer kids commonly use a bronchodilator for exercise-induced asthma.

But both carry standard warnings for those with heart problems. Now it's likely that the anticholinergics like Spiriva will carry similar warnings, that there will be a level playing field. Many patients will use all three types of drugs.

But when you're drowning in air (and that's what happens when your lungs shut down) you either do something or die. Even if it might kill you down the road.