People age 60 or older living with asthma will be the focus of a new study by the University of Louisville.

Researchers will examine the personal and environmental influences of asthma in older adults. A $2.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging will help fund the project.

Dr. Barbara Polvika, chair and professor for UofL’s School of Nursing, said this study is a unique opportunity to look at a population of people who are usually not thought of when examining asthma.

“It’s an increasing problem with the increasing age of the population and also the environmental triggers and potential issues in the environment may cause issues with asthma,” she said.

Asthma prevalence in Kentucky is highest among adults age 55 to 64 years old and lowest among those age 25 to 34, according to Kentucky Asthma Surveillance Report.

Co-principal investigator Dr. Rodney Foltz said there are many differences between elderly people living with asthma compared with children or younger adults.

“Generally they are on lots of other medications. Many of them have chronic co-morbidities, there are other chronic medical conditions that you don’t see in kids or otherwise healthy adults,” he said.

There are also issues related to memory loss and cognition.

Researchers hope to recruit 190 asthma sufferers who are 60 and older, and are also non-smokers with no other lung diseases. They’ll perform pulmonary function and skin-allergy tests as well as collect blood work and information related to medical history.

The team will also measure chemical emissions from outdoor and indoor allergens associated with asthma.

The five-year study will focus on people living in the Louisville Metro area.