Effect of age on asthma control: results from the National Asthma Survey

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Jan;106(1):24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.10.017.


Background: two million US citizens older than 65 years have asthma, but little is known about asthma control in this population.

Objective: to compared short- and long-term asthma control in elderly (≥ 65 years old) and young adult (18-64 years old) populations from the National Asthma Survey.

Methods: data from the National Asthma Survey (sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) were analyzed. Demographic variables, health insurance status, smoking status, indoor allergen exposure, and asthma education were compared between the young adult and elderly populations. Asthma control was examined based on short-term measures (recent oral corticosteroid bursts or symptoms) and long-term measures (asthma attacks, urgent care visits, hospitalizations, and activity limitation in the previous year).

Results: a total of 2,557 young and 398 elderly asthmatic patients were included. Elderly patients had a lower income, were less educated, were more obese, were more insured, had less indoor exposure, and were more likely to be former smokers. They were less educated about asthma attack interventions and asthma action plans (P < .05 for both). On multivariate analysis, elderly patients had worse control of asthma based on short-term measures (daytime symptoms in the previous month [odds ratio (OR), 1.73; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25-2.35] and any short-term measure [OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.11-1.97]) and long-term measures (activity limitation in the previous year [OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.12-2.01]).

Conclusions: elderly asthmatic patients have worse short- and long-term asthma control compared with the young adult population. Further studies are needed to elucidate whether these findings are due to pathophysiologic differences and whether tailored education or other novel strategies can provide better asthma control.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult