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  • Older women are at greater risk to die from asthma

    Author: AAP

Respiratory physicians are urging older women to take control of their asthma to reduce the numbers of females dying from the disease.

Women aged 65 and over are nearly three times more likely to die from asthma than men of the same age and are being urged to take better control of the condition.

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In 2016, 455 asthma-related deaths were recorded in Australia, comprising 312 females and 143 males. The overall figure increased from 421 deaths in 2015.

People aged 75 and over made up two-thirds of the deaths (300 of 455), according to the latest data at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Compared to last year, there were 13 more deaths from asthma in NSW and 11 more deaths from asthma in Victoria, including those due to the epidemic thunderstorm asthma event on November 21 in Melbourne last year.


Respiratory physician Dr Jonathan Burdon, chair of the National Asthma Council Australia, says the rising toll is a concern.

"To combat this phenomenon, it's imperative that women make sure their asthma is well managed and treated as they get older," Dr Burdon said.

"If you experience worsening symptoms, it's important to take quick action to reduce the risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack."

Experts believe there are a number of reasons why older women are at greater risk of succumbing to the lung disease, one being the hormonal impact of menopause.

"We know the risk of getting into trouble with asthma in the peri-menopausal years and beyond is increased, that's when oestrogen levels drop, the progesterone levels are higher relatively speaking to the oestrogen levels; so it's something to do with the hormones," Dr Burdon said.

Another reason is simply their age and the other health issues they are more likely to suffer such as high blood pressure or obesity, he says.

If a woman's asthma is not improving with their preventative medication then the advice is to seek help from a specialist.

"For anybody on long-term therapy it's a sensible idea to be reviewed by a specialist at least once," said Dr Burdon.


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