Incidence and outcomes of asthma in the elderly: A population-based study in Rochester, Minnesota

Brent A. Bauer, Charles E. Reed, John W. Yunginger, Peter C. Wollan, Marc D. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Study objective: To estimate the incidence of asthma in an elderly population and to describe the clinical characteristics, use of health services, and long-term survival of persons with onset of asthma after age 65 years. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Rochester, Minn. Patients: All Rochester, Minn, residents age 65 years or older who met criteria for onset of definite or probable asthma from 1964 through 1983. Interventions: None. Measurements and results: Ninety-eight Rochester residents (52 female, 46 male) with onset of asthma at or after age 65 years were identified. The age- and sex-adjusted incidence was 95/100,000 (95% confidence interval, 76 to 115/100,000). The age-specific incidence of asthma was 103/100,000 in residents aged 65 to 74 years, 81/100,000 in those aged 75 to 84 years, and 58/100,000 in residents older than 85 years. Only 11% had allergy skin tests, 24% had at least one office peak flow measurement, and 43% had at least one spirometry measurement. After the diagnosis of asthma, 40% had unscheduled ambulatory visits, 22% had emergency department visits, and 42% had at least one hospitalization for asthma. Observed survival was not significantly different from expected survival. Conclusions: Asthma is common in the elderly. Diagnostic evaluation was less intensive than present guidelines recommend. Following the diagnosis of asthma, a substantial proportion of these individuals required unscheduled ambulatory visits, emergency department visits, or hospitalizations. Asthma with onset after age 65 years was not associated with reduced survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • asthma
  • diagnosis
  • elderly
  • incidence
  • survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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