Safety and efficacy of montelukast as adjunctive therapy for treatment of asthma in elderly patients
Nicola Scichilone, Salvatore Battaglia, Alida Benfante, Vincenzo Bellia
Dipartimento Biomedico di Medicina Interna e Specialistica, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy
Abstract: Asthma is a disease of all ages. This assumption has been challenged in the past, because of several cultural and scientific biases. A large body of evidence has accumulated in recent years to confirm that the prevalence of asthma in the most advanced ages is similar to that in younger ages. Asthma in the elderly may show similar functional and clinical characteristics to that occurring in young adults, although the frequent coexistence of comorbid conditions in older patients, together with age-associated changes in the human lung, may lead to more severe forms of the disease. Management of asthma in the elderly follows specific guidelines that apply to all ages, although most behaviors are pure extrapolation of what has been tested in young ages. In fact, age has always represented an exclusion criterion for eligibility to clinical trials. This review focuses specifically on the safety and efficacy of leukotriene modifiers, which represent a valid option in the treatment of allergic asthma, both as an alternative to first-line drugs and as add-on treatment to inhaled corticosteroids. Available studies specifically addressing the role of montelukast in the elderly are scarce; however, leukotriene modifiers have been demonstrated to be safe in this age group, even though cases of acute hepatitis and occurrence of Churg-Strauss syndrome have been described in elderly patients; whether this is associated with age is to be confirmed. Furthermore, leukotriene modifiers provide additional benefit when added to regular maintenance therapy, not differently from young asthmatics. In elderly patients, the simpler route of administration of leukotriene modifiers, compared with the inhaled agents, could represent a more effective strategy in improving the outcomes of asthma therapy, given that unintentional nonadherence with inhalation therapy represents a complex problem that may lead to significant impairment of asthma symptom control.
Keywords: leukotriene antagonists, asthma, treatment, airway inflammation, aging
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