Nav: Home

COPD underdiagnosed in older adults, but can be managed

August 03, 2020

"Recognizing and Treating COPD in Older Adults," the latest issue of the What's Hot newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America, addresses what is known about the prevalence, incidence, and impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older adults.

Despite high incidence of COPD -- as many as 30 million Americans are affected -- many patients are not diagnosed, according to the publication. This occurs for multiple reasons, including poor awareness of symptoms among patients and providers, low suspicion of disease, and inadequate reimbursement for diagnostic tests.

Once diagnosed, patients face further challenges with a multitude of treatment options and devices, inadequate patient education to manage their condition, exacerbations, and disparate perceptions between patients and providers of what is most important to address in treatment plans.

"This publication provides insight on improving our understanding of COPD, enhancing the tools available to health care professionals in diagnosing and managing the illness, and raising awareness of the impact of COPD in older adults," said Barbara Yawn, MD, MSc, who served on the advisory board that oversaw the new What's Hot.

COPD is defined by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) as "a common, preventable, and treatable disease that is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation that is due to airway and/or alveolar abnormalities usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases and influenced by host factors, including abnormal lung development."

COPD is more common in older adults, but underdiagnosis may occur because they think that shortness of breath or other symptoms are a normal sign of aging, and do not mention these symptoms to their health care providers. But outcomes can be improved with appropriate reporting of symptoms, screening, and treatment. The What's Hot also indicates that COPD has well-established guidelines for management of the disease, but greater awareness and adherence to guidelines among health care providers is needed as well.

The publication further summarizes the symptoms and differential diagnoses for the disease and identifies additional reasons for underdiagnosis in older adults. Treatment options following GOLD guidelines are explained, along with steps to improve the process of diagnosis and treatment.

"Preventive measures are effective for helping people avoid COPD," Yawn said. "Early diagnosis and optimal management through pulmonary rehabilitation, immunizations, smoking cessation support, behavioral changes, oxygen therapy when needed, management of associated comorbidities, and pharmacotherapy will enable people with COPD to improve symptoms, increase functional capacity, and live life to its fullest."

Support for the new What's Hot was provided by GSK.
-end-
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society -- and its 5,500+ members -- is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational unit, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

The Gerontological Society of America

Related Aging Articles:

Aging-US: 'From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19' by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny
Aging-US recently published ''From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19'' by Blagosklonny et al. which reported that COVID-19 is not deadly early in life, but mortality increases exponentially with age - which is the strongest predictor of mortality.
Understanding the effect of aging on the genome
EPFL scientists have measured the molecular footprint that aging leaves on various mouse and human tissues.
Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.
Aging memories may not be 'worse, 'just 'different'
A study from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences adds nuance to the idea that an aging memory is a poor one and finds a potential correlation between the way people process the boundaries of events and episodic memory.
A new biomarker for the aging brain
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan have identified changes in the aging brain related to blood circulation.
Scientists invented an aging vaccine
A new way to prevent autoimmune diseases associated with aging like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease was described in the article.
The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.
Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.
Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.
Intelligence can link to health and aging
For over 100 years, scientists have sought to understand what links a person's general intelligence, health and aging.
More Aging News and Aging Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.