USF allergists help push for more focus on ashtma in elderly patients

Elderly patients suffering from asthma are being overlooked when it comes to medical research and education.

This is the conclusion of a team of physicians, including two from USF Health, whose proceedings from a recent workshop on asthma in older adults are published in the September issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, as well as appearing on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website.

Monroe J. King, DO, associate professor of medicine in the USF Division of Allergy and Immunology and chairman of the workshop, and Dennis K. Ledford, MD, professor of medicine in the USF Division of Allergy and Immunology, were among a team of 23 physicians who provided the report addressing the role of allergies in the elderly at the 2008 workshop, which was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).


Dr. Monroe King (left), and Dr. Dennis Ledford.

This workshop grew out of a working group of physicians and scientists from the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers bringing to the attention of the NIA the many gaps in knowledge and very little research on asthma in the elderly. Participants included more than 50 physicians and researchers from academia, government and industry. The Division of Allergy and Immunology at USF is one of 19 Asthma Clinical Research Centers sponsored by the American Lung Association.

The paper, titled “Asthma in the elderly:  Current understanding and future research needs – a report of a National Institute on Aging (NIA) workshop,” addressed the many challenges physicians face in recognizing, diagnosing and treating asthma in elderly patients. Asthma affects 7 percent of those 65 and older and the patho-physiological mechanisms of asthma are different in the elderly from those in younger patients, which could influence the course of treatment and management, the report noted.

In urging the need for expanded research and study, the report also noted that “This workshop brought together many disciplines to further our current understanding, resolve gaps in knowledge, and explore future areas of research and education.”

“The physicians and scientists who met during  the National Institutes on Aging sponsored workshop concluded that older adults and their doctors need to be aware that asthma is a common cause of breathlessness in the elderly, and diagnosing and properly treating asthma may lead to improved quality of life amongst the elderly,” Dr. King said. “Much research remains to be done, and the National Institutes of Health are interested in funding this research as evidenced by three Program Announcements described in this supplement to the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.”