Seniors With Asthma Do Worse If Obese

They also fare poorly in traffic pollution, researchers say

TUESDAY, June 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who have asthma are at increased risk for poorly controlled asthma if they are obese, a new study says.

Researchers looked at 104 patients and found that those aged 65 and older who were obese were five times more likely to have poorly controlled asthma than those of average weight.

The study also found that older patients with asthma may be more susceptible to the effects of traffic air pollution. The reason is unclear, but may be due to potentially impaired responses to highly reactive molecules produced in their bodies as they breathe in the polluted air, the researchers said.

The findings were published June 1 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

"Poor asthma control can lead to a decreased quality of life and an increased risk for emergency department visits, hospitalizations and death," lead author and allergist Dr. Tolly Epstein said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The number of older adults with asthma in the United States is expected to increase from the current 3.1 million to 6.2 million in 2037, according to the study. Older adults account for two-thirds of asthma-related deaths.

"The health effect of outdoor air pollutants on asthma in baby boomers as well as young children is substantial and underappreciated," study co-author and allergist Dr. David Bernstein said in the news release.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offers tips on how people with asthma can reduce their exposure to air pollution:

  • Don't travel or go outdoors during peak commuting times.
  • Keep windows closed, especially if your home faces a road with high traffic levels.
  • If you have an attached garage, don't start the car and let it run. Exhaust fumes can enter your home even if the garage door is open.
  • Try to avoid smoke, dirt, gases and other pollutants that can trigger asthma flare-ups.

More information

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more about older adults and asthma.

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, June 1, 2012
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