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Short oral corticosteroids bursts linked to severe adverse events

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Brief oral steroid bursts (≤14 days) were associated with severe adverse events, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Severe adverse events within 5 to 30 and 31 to 90 days after initiation of steroid therapy were analyzed amongst a population of more than 2 million adults aged 20 to 64 years enrolled at a Taiwan national health insurance program who received a single steroid burst.

Incidence rates per 1000 person-years in steroid bursts were as follows:

-Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding: 27.1 (95% CI, 26.7 to 27.5)

-Sepsis: 1.5 (CI, 1.4 to 1.6)

-Heart failure: 1.3 (CI, 1.2 to 1.4)

The rate of GI bleeding, sepsis, and heart failure significantly increased within 5 to 30 days after steroid therapy initiation and decreased during the following 31 to 90 days.


Yao TC, Haung YW, Chang SM, et al. Association between oral corticosteroid bursts and severe adverse events. Ann Intern Med. 2020; https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-0432