Treating COPD in older and oldest old patients

Andrea Corsonello, Simone Scarlata, Claudio Pedone, Silvia Bustacchini, Sergio Fusco, Anna Zito, Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The treatment of older and oldest old patients with COPD poses several problems and should be tailored to specific outcomes, such as physical functioning. Indeed, impaired homeostatic mechanisms, deteriorated physiological systems, and limited functional reserve mainly contribute to this complex scenario. Therefore, we reviewed the main difficulties in managing therapy for these patients and possible remedies. Inhaled long acting beta-agonists (LABA) and anticholinergics (LAMA) are the mainstay of therapy in stable COPD, but it should be considered that pharmacological response and safety profile may vary significantly in older patients with multimorbidity. Their association with inhaled corticosteroids is recommended only for patients with severe or very severe air-flow limitation or with frequent exacerbations despite bronchodilator treatment. In hypoxemic patients, long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) may improve not only general comfort and exercise tolerance, but also cognitive functions and sleep. Non-pharmacological interventions, including education, physical exercise, nutritional support, pulmonary rehabilitation and telemonitoring can importantly contribute to improve outcomes. Older patients with COPD should be systematically evaluated for the presence of risk factors for non-adherence, and the inhaler device should be chosen very carefully. Comorbidities, such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, obesity, cognitive, visual and auditory impairment, may significantly affect treatment choices and should be scrutinized. Palliative care is of paramount importance in end-stage COPD. Finally, treatment of COPD exacerbations has been also reviewed. Therapeutic decisions should be founded on a careful assessment of cognitive and functional status, comorbidity, polypharmacy, and age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in order to minimize adverse drug events, drug-drug or drug-disease interactions, and non-adherence to treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1672-1689
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Volume21
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Adherence
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Comorbidity
  • Long-acting antichilinergics (LAMA)
  • Long-acting beta agonists (LABA)
  • Older

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)

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