COPD in the elderly patient

Nicola A. Hanania, Gulshan Sharma, Amir Sharafkhaneh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The elderly are especially prone to the adverse health effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a common disorder in that population. While the prevalence and morbidity of COPD in the elderly are high, it is often undiagnosed and thus undertreated. The diagnosis of COPD is primarily based on the physiological documentation of airflow limitation using spirometry. However, several controversies exist as to the range of predicted normal values for these measurements in the elderly population, and the clinical presentation of COPD in the elderly may be complicated by the presence of several comorbidities. Many nonpharmcological and pharmacological interventions are available for managing COPD. However, management of COPD in the elderly population may be challenged by the polypharmacy of medications that these patients often take, which can interfere with compliance with therapy. Additionally, the elderly often suffer from physical or cognitive disabilities that can prevent compliance with prescribed medications. Lastly, adverse effects from medications prescribed for treatment of COPD may be more pervasive in elderly patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-606
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010


  • Aging
  • COPD
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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