Late-Onset Asthma: A Diagnostic and Management Challenge

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Late-onset asthma is common, associated with poor outcome, underdiagnosed and undertreated, possibly due to the modifying effect of ageing on disease expression. Although the diagnostic work-up in elderly individuals suspected of having asthma follows the same steps as in younger individuals (case history and spirometry), it is important to acknowledge that elderly individuals are likely to have diminished bronchodilator reversibility and some degree of fixed airflow obstruction. Elderly individuals, therefore, often require further objective tests, including bronchial challenge testing, to objectively confirm asthma. If necessary, a trial of oral or inhaled corticosteroid might be necessary. Asthma can be diagnosed when increased airflow variability is identified in a symptomatic patient, and if the patient does not have a history of exposure, primarily smoking, known to cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the diagnosis is asthma even if the patient does not have fully reversible airflow obstruction. Pharmacological therapy in patients with late-onset asthma follows international guidelines, including treatment with the lowest effective dose of inhaled corticosteroid to minimize the risk of systemic effects. However, most recommendations are based on extrapolation from findings in younger patients. Comorbidities are very common in patients with late-onset asthma and need to be taken into account in the management of the disease. In conclusion, late-onset asthma is poorly recognized and sub-optimally treated, the latter not least because elderly patients are excluded from most randomized controlled trials. Future studies should focus on the development of evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and the pharmacological therapy of asthma in the elderly, including late-onset asthma.

TidsskriftDrugs & Aging
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)157-162
StatusUdgivet - 2017

ID: 195047412