[Treatment of severe acute asthma in adults]

J Lissac, J Labrousse, A Tenaillon, J M Coulaud, J D Massart, B Icole
Annales de Médecine Interne 1986, 137 (1): 34-7
Although abnormal blood gases are unusual in status asthmaticus, hypercapnia indicates a considerable increase in bronchial resistance. The authors report their experience of 106 personal cases of acute severe asthma. Emergency management of acute respiratory failure consisted in symptomatic therapy (low rate oxygen or mechanical ventilation after nasal intubation). Corticosteroids, rehydration, antibiotics and beta-2 adrenergic agents were associated. Mechanical ventilation was necessary in patients who developed alterations of consciousness or PaCO2 above 60 mm Hg (8 kPa). In respirator-patients, sedative drugs were needed. Terbutaline and salbutamol were occasionally beneficial but epinephrine remains the drug of choice. In our series of 106 cases (79 with hypercapnia) the overall mortality was 3.8 p. 100. Of the 33 cases who underwent mechanical ventilation, there were 4 deaths (12 p. 100). A review of the literature showed a much higher mortality in other series.

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