Asthma Is Deadlier in Older Adults
Asthma is five times deadlier and complications are more common in seniors, according to a recent review. As the world's population continues to age, asthma prevalence in people over 65 is increasing. Asthma currently affects about 9 percent of older adults.
Asthma causes lung inflammation and breathing problems, which often are made worse by changes that occur with age. According to Dr. Michael Wechsler, professor of medicine and co-director of the Cohen Family Asthma Institute at National Jewish Health in Denver and co-author of the review, the lungs become less elastic, the chest wall becomes more rigid, and the muscles that power the respiratory system become weaker in older adults. In addition, the immune system doesn’t fight infection – a common asthma trigger – as well.
Research also shows that older adults – as well as their health care providers – often prioritize other medical conditions over asthma, minimizing asthma symptoms and underestimating their impact. According to the review published in The Lancet, half of older adults with asthma, including those with adult-onset asthma that first develops in middle age, have not been properly diagnosed.