Respiratory disease rates high among older seniors

by Bruce Sylvester – Older seniors, aged 85 and over, show a high burden of respiratory disease, researchers reported on September 3, 2012 at the European Respiratory Society’s annual congress in Vienna.

UK researchers conducted the analysis as part of the Newcastle 85+ study, a 5-year longitudinal study assessing health and vitality of seniors in this age-group.

While the Newcastle 85+ study includes comprehensive demographic, physiological, clinical and biological assessments of health and vitality, this respiratory sub-analysis included data on 845 people aged 85years and over from the UK.

The investigators reported that 20% of men and 21% of women had either asthma or COPD, and 59% of men and 50% of women showed airflow obstruction, based upon the results of   spirometry testing.

Professor Andrew Fisher, from Newcastle University, who led the respiratory theme of the study, said: “Our results confirm a significant prevalence of obstructive spirometry in the 85+ population, [and] further evaluation of this unique dataset will allow us to examine how much of this is attributable to healthy ageing of the lungs and how much to the airways disease in this population of very old people.”

Investigator and author, Therese Small, from the Freeman Hospital and Newcastle University in the UK, said, “Over the next few years, it will be crucial for healthcare professionals to understand the problems the ageing population will face. The results provide a novel insight into the future healthcare needs of this rapidly growing population.”

Professor Tom Kirkwood, Associate Dean for Ageing at Newcastle University, and lead investigator of the Newcastle 85+ Study, added, “It’s really essential to fill the current gaps in knowledge about the health of the fastest growing sector of the population, and these data on respiratory disease are a particularly important part of this effort.”