Pharmacotherapeutic management of asthma in the elderly patient

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Asthma is a heterogeneous syndrome with variable phenotypes. Reversible airway obstruction and airway hyper-responsiveness often with an atopic or eosinophilic component is common in the elderly asthmatic. Asthma chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap syndrome (ACOS), a combination of atopy-mediated airway hyper-responsiveness and a history of smoking or other environmental noxious exposures, can lead to some fixed airway obstruction and is also common in elderly patients. Little specific data exist for the treating the elderly asthmatic, thus requiring the clinician to extrapolate from general adult data and asthma treatment guidelines. Areas covered: A stepwise approach to pharmacotherapy of the elderly patient with asthma and ACOS is offered and the literature supporting the use of each class of drugs reviewed. Expert opinion: Inhaled, long-acting bronchodilators in combination with inhaled corticosteroids represent the backbone of treatment for the elderly patient with asthma or ACOS. Beyond these medications used as direct bronchodilators and topical anti-inflammatory agents, a stepwise approach to escalation of therapy includes multiple options such as oral leukotriene receptor antagonist or 5-lipoxygense inhibitor therapy, oral phosphodiesterase inhibitors, systemic corticosteroids, oral macrolide antibiotics and if evidence of eosinophilic/atopic component disease exists then modifying monoclonal antibody therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
StatePublished - 2020


  • Asthma
  • asthma treatment
  • bronchodilators
  • elderly
  • geriatrics
  • immunotherapy
  • long-acting beta 2 agonist (LABA)
  • long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA)
  • therapeutic monoclonal antibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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