Study sheds new light on asthma with airflow obstruction in older adults

A summary of research published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research

A recent study has given us new understanding of asthma with airflow obstruction. The research is part of the Chronic Airway Diseases Early Stratification (CADSET): an ERS Clinical Research Collaboration.

What did the study look at?

This study, published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research, looked at how common asthma with airflow obstruction (AO) is. The research also examined characteristics of the condition — a research process known as phenotyping.

The study included nearly 70,000 adults over the age of 50. Researchers compared the characteristics of people with AO to other people who had:

  • asthma without airflow obstruction (asthma-only)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) without asthma history (COPD-only).
What do the results show?

The study found two key points:

  • People with AO showed more breathlessness compared to people with asthma-only and COPD-only.
  • Among the general population, people with AO were likely to have raised levels of inflammation more often. They were also more likely to develop a common heart condition, known as coronary artery disease, compared with both asthma- and COPD-only.
Why is this important?

Asthma and COPD are common lung conditions with overlapping characteristics. Distinguishing between the two is therefore difficult, yet incredibly important due to each condition requiring different treatment. The characteristics and number of people with AO has been unclear.

However, this study may help healthcare professionals to spot (mild) AO and coronary artery disease in the general population. By recognising the condition early on, treatment is likely to be more successful.

Read the original research paper:

Title: Phenotyping asthma with airflow obstruction in middle-aged and older adults: a CADSET clinical research collaboration