HealthDay News — Asthma treatments, especially inhaled corticosteroids, are less likely to work for older patients, according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers looked at 1,200 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma, and found that treatment failure occurred in 17.3% of those aged 30 years and older, compared with 10.3% of those younger than 30.

Lower lung function and having asthma for a longer time were associated with a higher risk of treatment failure. When the researchers focused on specific therapies, they found that treatment failure increased consistently for every year above age 30 years among patients who used inhaled corticosteroids. 

Patients aged 30 years and older who used inhaled corticosteroids, either alone or in combination with other therapies, were more than twice as likely to have treatment failure than those younger than 30, the investigators found. Men and women had similar rates of treatment failure.

The finding that older asthma patients are at increased risk for treatment failure “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,” study coauthor Ryan Dunn, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver, said in a press release. “Further research is needed to elucidate the causes underlying our observations and to examine whether older patients might benefit from a unique treatment approach.”


  1. Dunn RM et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2015; doi:10.1164/rccm.201503-0426OC.