Treating Asthma in Older Women

Treating Asthma in Older Women

Among older individuals, women are significantly more likely than men to report having asthma and also have a 30% higher asthma-related mortality rate. In addition, women are nearly twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma when compared with men. Older women have been shown to have the highest hospitalization rates among all people with asthma (Figure). “However, little is known regarding why older women are more likely to suffer from the adverse events of asthma,” says Alan P. Baptist, MD, MPH. To better understand the specific issues that are unique to older women with asthma, Dr. Baptist and colleagues conducted a literature review and published their findings in Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.   Unique Factors Menopause and hormone replacement are unique features among older women that may play a role in how asthma affects them differently from others. “Adult women experience the most asthma exacerbations around age 50, which is also the average age of menopause,” explains Dr. Baptist. “Studies also show that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle often play a large role in asthma symptoms. Although we can’t say menopause and asthma symptoms are definitely related, we did find data suggesting this may be the case.” Dr. Baptists and colleagues also found that women with no history of asthma who were started on hormone replacement therapy were more likely to develop asthma than women who did not. “Conversely, among women who had asthma, hormone replacement actually improved symptoms and decreased asthma exacerbations,” Dr. Baptist says. “Hormone replacement therapy has many side effects, but it may be worthwhile to consider it in some...