Perception of bronchoconstriction in elderly asthmatics.

Department of Chest Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Kirikkale University, Turkey.
Journal of Asthma (Impact Factor: 1.83). 12/2001; 38(8):691-6. DOI: 10.1081/JAS-100107547
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The impaired perception of bronchoconstriction in asthmatic patients may increase the risk of severe exacerbation. To characterize the perception of bronchoconstriction in elderly asthma patients, we compared the perception in older patients with that of younger patients. To determine the influence of perception of long-standing diseases, we further evaluated the perception in early-onset elderly asthma patients and in late-onset elderly asthma patients. The study group consisted of 80 stable asthmatic patients. The patients were grouped according to their age (group 1, < 60 years, n = 37, group 2, > or = 60 years, n = 43). Each group was separated into two subgroups according to the duration of symptoms (late-onset asthma 1A and 2A, < 5 years, early-onset asthma 1B and 2B, > or = 5 years). A histamine inhalation test was performed for each patient. Dyspnea was assessed by modified Borg scale. The Borg score in forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) reduction by 20% was determined as perception score 20 (PS20). The mean perception scores of the elderly asthmatic patients were significantly lower than those of the younger asthmatic patients (group 1, PS20 = 2.35 +/- 0.17; group 2, PS20 = 1.37 +/- 0.12, p < 0.0001). The differences of mean perception score (PS20) between early- and late-onset subgroups were insignificant (IA, 2.63 +/- 0.30 and IB, 2.07 +/- 0.16, p = 0.101; 2A, 1.36 +/- 0.19 and 2B, 1.59 +/- 0.120, p = 0.91). The mean perception scores of male asthmatic patients were significantly lower than those of female patients (p = 0.03). There was a correlation between PS20 and % FEV1 in the younger group (r = 0.392, p = 0.02), but not in the elderly group (r = 139, p = 0.375). The correlation between PS20 and PD20 in both younger and elderly group was insignificant (p > 0.05). Elderly asthmatics perceive less intense respiratory distress for a decrease of 20% in FEV1 than do younger asthmatics. This underperception of bronchoconstriction may result in a delay in medical care during an acute asthmatic episode. Thus, we strongly recommend that elderly asthmatic patients should be followed up more frequently and closely.

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