Eight studies were included in the review: four placebo-controlled studies (438 participants) and four uncontrolled studies (124 participants). The quality of the placebo-controlled studies was variable: one study scored 3, two scored 2 and one scored 1. Study duration ranged from two days to 4.5 years. The number of patients per study group ranged from five to 143.
Three hundred and twenty-three patients out of 344 who received glucocorticoids reported adverse events. The adverse event rate was 35/100 patient years. Cardiovascular adverse events were noted most commonly, followed by infections.
In the placebo-controlled studies, when glucocorticoid was compared with placebo there was a non-significantly greater rate of adverse events with glucocorticoids (OR 1.83, 95% CI 0.98 to 3.40; four trials), a significantly greater risk of flushing with glucocorticoids (OR 15, 95% CI 5.3 to 40; one study), a significantly greater risk of headache with glucocorticoids (OR 6.2, 95% CI 2.3 to 16; one study), a significantly greater risk of heart rhythm disorder with glucocorticoids (OR 2.93, 95% CI 1.03 to 8.36; one study) and a significantly greater risk of lower respiratory tract with glucocorticoids (OR 5.62, 95% CI 1.18 to 26.85; one study).
In the non-controlled studies, the most frequently reported adverse effect was increased diastolic blood pressure (88%; one study), flushing (24%; one study), diabetes mellitus (20%; one study), headache (20%; one study) and angina pectoris (20%; one study).
Other results were presented in the review.