Health Risks Greater For Asthmatic Baby Boomers
Many feel that asthma is just a disease of children or young adults. However, as more of the 78 million boomers enter their 60’s, mortality rates and other health issues increase, especially for those with asthma. According to a study published in the May issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the death rate attributed to asthma for those aged 65-years and older is an astonishing 14 times higher than in younger patients!
Yet the research shows the disease is often misdiagnosed and under treated, with only 53 percent of asthmatic boomers using prescribed inhalers. Other health risks, including increased allergy sensitivity, decreased lung function and significantly poorer quality of life, were found in this sample population of asthmatic baby boomers.
Asthma is a complex disease that, when left untreated, can lead to worsening lung function and may be potentially life-threatening. It is concerning that such a large percentage of older people with asthma are letting their disease go untreated, especially since this can lead to other health problems.
Researchers analyzed 77 patients over 60-years-old, both with and without asthma. A complete medical history, physical examination, thorough allergy and asthma tests were performed. Quality of life was measured through a patient questionnaire. Results showed 89 percent of patients with asthma also had allergies to mold, animals and/or dust mites. Poor general health, increased body pain and worse overall physical health were also reported in asthma sufferers compared to those without the disease. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, arthritis and diabetes were found to be significantly more common as well.
Those with asthma reported more infections, physician visits and more impact on health, yet only half are regularly treating the disease. According to ACAAI, the estimated economic cost of asthma is $20.7 billion annually. Patients with asthma symptoms can’t afford misdiagnosis and mismanagement leading to under-treatment. It is important to find the right physician to get the quality care you deserve.
Research shows that appropriate recognition and diagnosis of the disease, use of asthma medications and treatment by physicians who are specially trained to treat asthma leads to superior outcomes at less cost. These specialists are physicians called allergists and they are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. It is important for patients to follow the recommended treatment plans.
Studies show that allergist provided asthma care results in improved outcomes that include:
- 54 percent to 76 percent reduction in emergency room visits
- 60 percent to 89 percent reduction in hospitalizations
- 77 percent reduction in lost time from work or school
- 45% fewer sick care office visits