Characteristics of Patients Admitted to Emergency Department for Asthma Attack

A Real-LIFE Study

Laura Losappio; Enrico Heffler; Rossella Carpentiere; Monica Fornero; Cosimo Damiano Cannito; Francesco Guerrera; Francesca Puggioni; Riccardo Monti; Stefania Nicola; Giovanni Rolla; Luisa Brussino


BMC Pulm Med. 2019;19(107) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Asthma is a chronic disease affecting 30 million people in Europe under 45y. Poor control of Asthma is the main cause of emergency-department (ED) access, becoming the strongest determinant of the economic burden of asthma management.

Objective: To examine the characteristics of adult patients admitted to ED for acute asthma attack, focusing on previous diagnosis of asthma (DA) and current therapy.

Methods: During a one-year period, a structured questionnaire, assessing asthma diagnosis and management, was administered to all patients admitted for asthma attack, to the ED of a South-Italy town. Only patients with subsequently confirmed asthma were enrolled.

The data on oxygen saturation (Sat.O2), heart and respiratory-rate, severity code ED-admission, hospitalization or discharge, had been obtained.

Results: Two hundred one patients (mean 50.3ys), were enrolled. One hundred eighteen had a DA, made 17.5 ± 5.88 years before, and 35.6% had a specialist-examination in the last year. 53.3% of DA-patients used a self-medication before ED access with short-acting-beta-2-agonist and oral-corticosteroids, although none had a written-asthma-action-plan (WAAP). Almost all DA-patients were on regular therapy: inhaled-corticosteroids (ICS) in 61%, associated with LABA in 85%. 16.7% of DA-patients had previous DA-access. The overall hospitalization-rate was 39%, higher in DA compared to unknown asthmatic patients (UA)(p = 0.017).

Significant risk factors for hospitalization were Sat-O2 ≤ 94% breathing ambient air (OR9.91, p < 0.001), inability-to-complete a sentence (OR9.42,p < 0.001) and the age (OR1.02,p = 0.049).

Conclusion: Despite the asthma guidelines-recommendation, up to 40% of patients received the asthma diagnosis in ED, only 61% of DA-patients were taking ICS. It is disappointing that DA-patients did not have a WAAP, which could explain the poor patient-self-medication at ED admission.