The number of cases of chronic obstructive respiratory disorder (COPD) and asthma in Europe is set to increase during the next few years as more people live longer.
People aged 85 years and over are the fastest growing age group worldwide, and new research presented at the European Respiratory Society's annual congress in Vienna, showed that respiratory disorders are an especially high burden in this population group.
In an assessment of 845 people aged at least 85 in the UK, 20 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women had either asthma or COPD. But when participants undertook a spirometry test to measure lung function, 50 per cent of women showed airflow obstruction, while the figure was 59 per cent in men.
“The results provide a novel insight into the future healthcare needs of this rapidly growing population,” said the study's lead author Therese Small from the Freeman Hospital and Newcastle University.
“Over the next few years, it will be crucial for healthcare professionals to understand the problems the ageing population will face.”
It's an issue that will have both a drastic economic and social burden on European countries, with the European Commission calling for stronger anti-smoking measures to halt the spread of such chronic diseases before healthcare systems are overwhelmed.
The increasing prevalence of COPD and asthma is expected to drive the global market for treatments for the conditions to increase from $38bn during 2012 to $47bn during 2017, according to a report published last month by BCC Research.
Methods of treating COPD are also advancing too, with Takeda backing a report that suggested healthcare professionals should have a greater focus on reducing the risk of COPD progressing rather than just treating immediate symptoms.