Management of asthma in the elderly patient
Andrea S Melani
Fisiopatologia e Riabilitazione Respiratoria, Dipartimento Vasi, Cuore e Torace, Policlinico Le Scotte, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, Siena, Italy
Abstract: A significant number of older asthmatics, more often than in previous ages, have poorly controlled asthma, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. On the other hand, current guidelines suggest that most asthmatics can obtain achievement and maintenance of disease control and do not include sections specific to the management of asthma in the elderly so that it is more evident the contrast between poor control of asthma in the elderly and the lack of specific guidance from guidelines on asthma management in older asthmatics. Inhaled corticosteroids are the cornerstone for older asthmatics, eventually with add-on inhaled long-acting beta-agonists; inhaled short acting beta-agonists can be used as rescue medications. Triggers exacerbating asthma are similar for all ages, but inhaled viruses and drug interactions have greater clinical significance in the elderly. Older asthmatics have an increased likelihood of comorbidities and polypharmacy, with possible worsening of asthma control and reduced treatment adherence. Physicians and older asthmatics probably either do not perceive or accept a poor asthma control. We conclude that specific instruments addressed to evaluate asthma control in the elderly with concomitant comorbidities and measurements for improving self-management and adherence could assure better disease control in older asthmatics.
Keywords: asthma, beta2-agonists, inhaled corticosteroids, asthma control, elderly