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Can shorter courses of oral steroids treat acute COPD exacerbations?

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Review of: Walters JA et al. Different durations of corticosteroid therapy for exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018;3:10.1002/14651858.CD006897.pub4.

Key learning points

  • A shorter course of corticosteroid lasting 3–7 days could be as effective as a longer course for the management of an exacerbation of COPD.

  • There was no difference in the likelihood of recurrence of the existing exacerbation, or a new flare-up, between the two treatment durations.

A course of corticosteroids lasting 3–7 days could be as effective as a 2-week treatment course for managing acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


This update to an earlier Cochrane review included eight randomised controlled trials involving 582 people with severe …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Contributors DTB Team.