Comparative Clinical, Physiological, and Inflammatory Characteristics of Elderly Subjects With or Without Asthma and Young Subjects With Asthma

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Asthma seems to present in the elderly as a specific phenotype that remains to be further described. In this prospective observational study, we aimed to assess the multidimensional aspects of asthma in the elderly.

METHODS:

In young (18 to 35 years old) subjects with mild to moderate asthma and elderly subjects (aged ≥60 years) either with or without mild to moderate asthma, we compared asthma control, health care and medication use, lung function, markers of airway and systemic inflammation, and adherence to therapy.

RESULTS:

Fifty subjects were recruited in each group. Elderly people with asthma showed more marked airway obstruction compared with young people with asthma and elderly people without asthma. They also had poorer asthma control, mainly associated with a lower FEV1, compared with young people with asthma, although airway responsiveness, health care use, prescribed doses of inhaled corticosteroids, and adherence to treatment were similar in both groups. Elderly subjects had an increase in some markers of systemic inflammation and bronchial epithelial dysfunction compared with young people with asthma. Blood eosinophils were higher in both asthma groups, particularly in elderly people with asthma. Sputum neutrophils were increased in both groups of elderly subjects and sputum eosinophils were increased in elderly people with asthma compared with the other two groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Asthma in the elderly presents as a specific phenotype associated with increased airway obstruction and mixed airway inflammation in addition to signs of systemic inflammation.

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