Diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the elderly

Link to article at PubMed

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2021 Mar 1;27(2):113-119. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000750.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) imposes a large burden on the global population and even more so for the elderly who face significant obstacles in the diagnosis, management, and psychosocial effects of the disease. This review describes the current challenges and key points in the management of COPD in the elderly.

RECENT FINDINGS: Lower limit rather than fixed cut off of the FEV1/FVC ratio can improve the diagnosis and better predict COPD mortality. High relative to standard dose influenza vaccination reduces confirmed cases of influenza overall and reduces hospitalizations in older nursing home residents. Simple interventions that include electronic health record tracking can significantly improve vaccination rates. Although many inhaler and nebulized medications are available for the elderly, the final regimen is usually determined by a combination of expense, issues with proper device use (from difficulty with coordination, hand grip, inspiratory flows or cognitive function) and the side effect profile. Fortunately, the switch to cheaper or better covered alternatives can be well tolerated with improvement in adherence and exacerbations of COPD. Finally, caution should be made against ageism, which may be a factor in the recommendation of rehabilitation or palliative care in the elderly COPD patient, as both are underused despite evidence of benefit.

SUMMARY: Although care for the elderly COPD patient can be difficult, we summarize key points that the physician should be cognizant of to provide comprehensive care.

PMID:33332880 | DOI:10.1097/MCP.0000000000000750

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