Asthma in the elderly (AIE) is under diagnosed and under treated and there is a paucity of knowledge. The National Institute on Aging convened this workshop to identify what is known, what gaps in knowledge remain and suggest research directions needed to improve the understanding and care of AIE. Asthma presenting at an advanced age often has similar clinical and physiologic consequences as seen with younger individuals but co-morbid illnesses and the psychosocial effects of aging may affect the diagnosis, clinical presentation and care of asthma in this population. At least two phenotypes exist among elderly asthma; those with long-standing asthma have more severe airflow limitation and less complete reversibility than those with late-onset asthma. Many challenges exist in the recognition and treatment of asthma in the elderly. Furthermore, the pathophysiological mechanisms of AIE are likely to be different from those seen in young asthmatics and these differences may influence the clinical course and outcomes of asthma in this population.
Keywords: Aging, airway, allergy, asthma, elderly, immune mechanisms, immunosenescence