Treatment for asthma is more likely to fail in patients aged 30 years and older, especially if they use inhaled corticosteroids, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Lead author Ryan Dunn, MD, and colleagues studied Asthma Clinical Research Network data on 1,200 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma. They found that treatment failed for 17.3% of patients aged 30 years or older, compared with 10.3% of those younger than age 30 years. Lower lung function measurements and longer duration of asthma were associated with a higher risk of treatment failure.

 Treatment failures increased consistently every year above age 30 years among patients using inhaled corticosteroids. Patients aged 30 years and older who were treated with inhaled corticosteroids, either alone or in combination, had more than twice the risk of treatment failure than patients younger than age 30 years. 

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“Our novel finding of decreased responsiveness to asthma therapy with increasing age may involve not only biological mechanisms such as differences in the type of airway inflammation in older patients but may also involve socioeconomic, geographic, or treatment adherence differences between older and younger patients,” Dr. Dunn said.