Status asthmaticus is defined as an acutely arising aggravation of an asthmatic attack, that fails to resolve with the use of bronchodilation therapy.
Status asthmaticus is a condition that may threaten the life of the patient and should therefore be recognized and treated immediately. The most characteristic, although by no means pathognomonic, symptom that the patients present with, is dyspnea. Usually, individuals presenting with status asthmaticus suffer from asthma that is difficult to control, and therefore have a prior medical history of hospitalizations, intubation and corticosteroid intake.
The following signs are expected to accompany a severe asthmatic attack and indicate a threat to the respiratory system:
- Wheezing sounds or decreased sounds during auscultation
- Pulse that exceeds 120 bpm
- More than 30 breaths per minute
- Pulsus paradoxus
- Use of accessory muscles
- Refusal to decline below the angle of 30 degrees
Another sign that is a strong indicator of a pending respiratory compromise is the silent crest. In some cases, pulmonary function is so obstructed, that the flow of air is inadequate to produce the characteristic wheezing sounds. In general, patients with status asthmaticus appear fatigued and unable to speak properly, due to their inability to breathe. A presentation that is further complicated by confusion or lethargy is invariably a sign of imminent respiratory failure.
Entire Body System
The pathogenesis of lactic acidosis in asthma is not well understood, but it has been presumed, by some, to be generated by fatiguing respiratory muscles. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] use of accessory muscles of respiration, pulse >120 beats/min, pulsus paradoxus >25 mm Hg, peak expiratory flow rate Altered mental status, paradoxical respirations, bradycardia, a quiet chest, and absence of pulsus paradoxus from respiratory muscle fatigue [accessmedicine.mhmedical.com]
This is causing her to fatigue, but she is still conscious. The doctor notes wheezing, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, and airway inflammation. Immediate treatment is needed to avoid having to place a breathing tube in Carrie. [study.com]
In May and June for twenty years she had rose fever with sneezing and rhinorrhea. In 1939 her symptoms began in March during the tree hay fever season and were associated with wheezing. [mdedge.com]
(inanition) (of unknown origin) (persistent) (with chills) (with rigor) R50.9 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code R50.9 Fever, unspecified 2016 2017 2018 2019 Billable/Specific Code Applicable To Fever NOS Fever of unknown origin [FUO] Fever with chills Fever with [icd10data.com]
A case of status asthmaticus and spontaneous hemothorax is described in a 29-year-old female of African descent who presented to the emergency room after 2 days of severe cough productive of yellow sputum, otalgia, sore throat, subjective fevers, chills [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Exceptions include patients with persistent focal findings on auscultation, high fever or toxic appearance, severe chest pain, or other unusual clinical features. [healio.com]
- Congestive Heart Failure
Differential diagnosis- Primary Pulmonary Hypertension - Congestive heart failure - Croup - Stridor 4. - Upper airway obstruction - Orthopnea Diagnosis- Obtain a CBC count and differential to evaluate for infectious causes (eg, pneumonia, viral infections [slideshare.net]
Prognosis Unless you have a complicating illness like congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you should do well as long as you get treatment on time. Pagination [webmd.com]
However, the prognosis is worse in people who have underlying diseases like congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Causes of Severe Asthma Attacks It is important to understand why asthma occurs. [healthhype.com]
Theophylline can increase intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) level, resulting in relaxation of bronchial smooth muscle. Corticosteroid can decrease inflammation of bronchial wall. [degruyter.com]
However, can get mydriasis if you get topical absorption (ie "blown" pupil in your status asthmaticus patient) Theophylline/Aminophylline: phosphodiesterase inhibitor, increasing the levels of cAMP and thereby producing bronchodilation. 5.7 mg/kg loading [learnpicu.com]
Enoximone is an imidazole with a T 1/2 of 4 h and milrinone a bipyridine with a T 1/2 of 2 h. 15 With both, inhibition of cAMP and cGMP breakdown in bronchial smooth muscle cells leads to bronchodilatation. [bja.oxfordjournals.org]
Enoximone is an imidazole with a T1/2 of 4 h and milrinone a bipyridine with a T1/2 of 2 h.15 With both, inhibition of cAMP and cGMP breakdown in bronchial smooth muscle cells leads to bronchodilatation. [academic.oup.com]
In fact, in some authors' experience, more adverse effects, including a cushingoid appearance and irritative bronchospasms, have occurred with these nebulizers. [emedicine.medscape.com]
This case report demonstrates that infection with influenza A virus can present with severe pneumonia and status asthmaticus refractory to medical and ventilatory treatment. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Who gets S. pneumoniae infections? Many people carry S. pneumoniae without becoming ill. [vdh.virginia.gov]
Overview Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a Gram-positive bacterium that is responsible for the majority of community-acquired pneumonia. [news-medical.net]
- Respiratory Distress
Previous case studies have demonstrated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as a life-saving measure for pregnant women with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as well as non-pregnant patients with status asthmaticus. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Curbside Consultation Hospitalization is warranted for patients with sustained or worsening respiratory distress during an asthma exacerbation or in patients where needed ongoing asthma therapy cannot reliably be continued after discharge. [healio.com]
Further treatment is based on the patient’s improvement in airflow obstruction and decrease in respiratory distress. [nursing.advanceweb.com]
• Tachypnea, labored respirations, with increased effort on exhalation.• Suprasternal retractions, use of accessory muscles of respiration.• Diminished breath sounds, decreased ability to speak in phrases or sentences.• Anxiety, irritability, fatigue [slideshare.net]
Acute asthma attack Clinical examination Auscultation (characteristic findings are usually only present during acute attacks) Prolonged expiratory phase with wheezing (dry crackles ) Decreased breath sounds ; possibly “ silent chest ” Tachypnea Percussion [amboss.com]
Tachypnea and tachycardia are common, secondary to sympathetic compensatory responses or inhalational medications initiated prior to transport team arrival. [ems1.com]
Intravenous Fluids and Electrolytes Tachypnea and increased work of breathing can lead to inadequate hydration due to diminished oral intake and increased insensible losses. [healio.com]
Classical signs of consolidation such as egophony, rales, whispered pectoriloquy, dullness to percussion or bronchial breath sounds might be heard. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Abdominal Pain
Physical examination revealed an afebrile obese black female complaining of abdominal pain. Blood pressure was 117/72 mmHg, heart rate 100 beats per minute, and respiratory rate 20 per minute. [ispub.com]
Asymptomatic Recurrent UTI Haematuria Vague abdominal pain or flank pain Dysuria Fever & urosepsis Pyonephrosis Renal failure Xanthogranulomatous pyelonephritis 16. CBC – chronic anaemia Urine analysis – alkaline ph >7 & frequently [slideshare.net]
In moderate to severe status asthmaticus, abdominal muscle use can cause symptoms of abdominal pain. [emedicine.medscape.com]
We report the case of a middle-aged indigenous male who suffered an ST-elevation myocardial infarction and then pulseless ventricular tachycardia arrest while still in the acute phase of treatment for status asthmaticus. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
S&S of acute resp failure Fatigue Restlessness Dyspnea Tachycardia Increased BP [quizlet.com]
• Tachycardia, elevated BP.• Heart failure and death from suffocation. 8. [slideshare.net]
The limiting factor in continuing to increase the dose of albuterol is typically dose-dependent tachycardia. [rc.rcjournal.com]
ECLS was instituted in patient 1 because PaCO2 was excessively high and pH was excessively low, in patient 2 because hypoxemia and shock were not responsive to treatment, and in patient 3 because of sustained severe hypotension. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
High levels of hypercapnia and associated severe acidosis are well tolerated in the absence of contraindications (i.e., preexisting intracranial hypertension). [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] clearance of mucous to profoundly reduce pulmonary compliance, making management of mechanical ventilation very challenging.6 Alveolar hyperinflation, hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and acidosis may contribute to the development of pulmonary arterial (PA) hypertension [jcvaonline.com]
Thus it is to be avoided in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, preeclampsia, or raised intracranial pressure. [statpearls.com]
They looked for adverse events such as arrhythmia, cardiac ischemia, cerebral ischemia, hypotension or hypertension. They observed that 9 patients developed new tachycardia and 4 had new/worsening hypertension. [emlyceum.com]
- Heart Failure
Workup • Blood test • CBC, ABG, Electrolytes, RBS, Theophillne level • Chest X-ray • To rule out pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, heart failure, pneumonia 20. [de.slideshare.net]
Literature provides several cases with adverse effect and fatal outcome in the use of enoximone for the chronic treatment of severe heart failure. 21 – 23 A reason might be that enoximone in heart failure was given in exceedingly high doses up to 2400 [bja.oxfordjournals.org]
Literature provides several cases with adverse effect and fatal outcome in the use of enoximone for the chronic treatment of severe heart failure.21–23 A reason might be that enoximone in heart failure was given in exceedingly high doses up to 2400 mg [academic.oup.com]
- Muscle Spasm
PHYSIOLOGY OF AN ASTHMATIC ATTACK In an appropriate host, a variety of insults (viral infections, exercise, cold air, immunologie reactions, and psychological stress) result in edema, mucous plugging, and smooth muscle spasm of the airway. [healio.com]
- Muscle Cramp
Side effects: Hypokalemia, muscle cramps, Tremors, tachycardia. • Beta2 agonists at higher doses have shown to reduce anti inflammatory actions of steroids by reducing its binding to its action receptors. • Adcock IM, et al., High concentration of beta [slideshare.net]
Perhaps this is why epinephrine (non-selective agonist treatment) may not be useful GINA 2015 guidelines suggest not using epinephrine for acute asthma exacerbation unless associated with anaphylaxis or angioedema Heliox Unclear effect on nebulized drug [maryland.ccproject.com]
This case suggests that albuterol may be a risk factor for the development of AIVR and highlights the importance of recognizing this rhythm to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful therapies. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Shortly after arrival she suffered a respiratory arrest, seizures, and urinary incontinence. She was immediately intubated. [bja.oxfordjournals.org]
If people are incontinent, care should be taken to keep the skin clean and dry. If the bladder is not functioning and urine is being retained, a tube (catheter) may be placed in the bladder to drain urine. [merckmanuals.com]
- Urinary Incontinence
Shortly after arrival she suffered a respiratory arrest, seizures, and urinary incontinence. She was immediately intubated. [bja.oxfordjournals.org]
Patients who present with an acute asthmatic attack must be continually monitored in terms of pulmonary function, in order to keep efficient track of the degree of airway obstruction. An FEV1 or PEF value that has reached the levels of less than 30-50% of the normal values or individualized normal values is a sign of pending respiratory arrest.
Patients who display profoundly severe symptomatology should be cautiously examined regarding FEV1/PEF, due to the potential bronchospasm that deep inspiration might induce . An arterial blood gas examination should also be performed and pulse oximetry can be the first step towards the evaluation of oxygen values in a non-invasive way.
Another useful examination is the chest radiograph, which may serve no purpose towards the monitoring and diagnosis of status asthmaticus, but certainly helps to eliminate other etiologies . A complete blood count is necessary solely when individuals are febrile and report sputum discharge. Theophylline levels should be investigated in cases of patients who are treated with the drug.
The actual decision to proceed to intubation is reached on the basis of clinical criteria, depending on respiratory capacity, levels of consciousness and oxygen values. Usually, patients with status asthmaticus present with both hypoxemia and hypocapnia; levels of CO2 that rise are oddly an indicator of a potentially threatened respiratory system and hypercapnia usually requires mechanical ventilation.
Treatment of an asthmatic attack should be prompt and effective, because the latter may jeopardize the patient's respiratory function and, therefore, life.
The first steps towards treating asthma includes the administration of nebulized β2 adrenergic antagonists, which are the cornerstone of bronchodilation therapy  . Correcting bronchospasm is vital for the amelioration of the patient's symptoms. Anticholinergics can also be administered alongside β2 adrenergic antagonists, since they contribute to the treatment and prevent complications  .
The administration of corticosteroids, orally or parenterally, is necessary when an individual presents with severe symptomatology, and due to the delay of their effect (six to twelve hours) they should be administered as promptly as possible. These drugs help to combat the inflammation that accompanies an asthma attack and to relieve the patient's symptomatology. Furthermore, patients will greatly benefit from oxygen therapy, as an acute attack of asthmatic etiology can greatly reduce the amount of oxygen a patient receives.
Failure to reverse an attack with the aforementioned measures is an indicator of a possible respiratory compromise. These patients should be monitored meticulously in terms of both pulmonary and cardiac function, since they also run an immediate risk of cardiac arrest, if respiratory function is not restored. Epinephrine or terbutaline can be administered subcutaneously in such cases and, as a last resort, intubation will eventually be required to ensure adequate breathing . Anxiolytic medications can be administered to those patients who continue to experience distress and agitation due to reduced amounts of oxygen, but only immediately before intubation.
Indeed, the most useful prognostic marker concerning status asthmaticus and an asthmatic attack in general, is the initial response to the treatment with bronchodilators  . An asthmatic attack is estimated to rarely result in death: approximately one out of 2,000 individuals will eventually die because of such a cause. It has been observed, that in order for status asthmaticus to lead to death, the attack needs to develop over a period of about 12 hours, which delineates the need for the patient to present for treatment as promptly as possible.
A patient who presents with moderate symptomatology is treated at an emergency level for 4-6 hours; after this period of time has passed, if the attack remains refractory to bronchodilation attempts, the patient is in immediate need of intensive care unit (ICU) admission  . Nevertheless, other studies have shown that failure of the attack to resolve within the first 2 hours of treatment greatly reduces the possibilities of its responding in the next hours; in the light of this information, a physician may decide upon ICU treatment earlier than the 4-hour period.
With regard to the exacerbation of asthmatic attacks, they can arise in two ways  :
- Slowly exacerbating attack, which develops insidiously over a period of days, before it reaches the state of status asthmaticus.
- Sudden onset asthma exacerbation, in which case the asthmatic status is reached within a period of hours, as opposed to days.
The etiology of status asthmaticus regards either factors related to the patient, or environmental factors. On the one hand, poor patient compliance, inadequate treatment and psychological factors can play a vital role and lead to the patient presenting with the severe symptomatology of an asthmatic attack. On the other hand, exposure to allergens the patient is strongly sensitive to, food allergies and sensitivity to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are some of the most common culprits behind an asthmatic status, that is unrelated to patient compliance. Individuals with a strongly atopic profile exhibit an increased risk of experiencing such an attack when exposed to allergens.
Status asthmaticus is a presentation of asthma that seems reserved for individuals living in underprivileged conditions, due to the lack of proper management and professional care . During the past years, deaths caused by status asthmaticus have indeed shown a steady increase, with approximately 100,000 deaths occurring annually on a global level . Death can occur due to asthma in cases that the attack leads to severe respiratory compromise; usually, death occurs to individuals suffering from severe disease that is unmanageable, but can arise in any case of well-controlled asthma, which is acutely exacerbated  .
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways and respiratory capacity, that is strongly triggered by allergen reactions and mediated by the release of cytokines and other cellular substances. In general, the initial stages of asthma can be treated with the administration of bronchodilators, such as short- and long-acting β2 antagonists. Failure to control the mild asthmatic attack, inadequate patient compliance or an exposure to an allergen that is too strong for an individual with a profoundly atopic profile may lead to severer consequences and death.
The exacerbated type of asthmatic attack that is accompanied by the greatest risk of death is status asthmaticus, namely an attack so severe that it does not respond to the standard bronchodilation therapy and threatens the respiratory function. Usually, an individual is exposed to an allergen they are intensely sensitive to; this leads to the release of histamine, leukotriene C4, prostaglandins and various other mediators of the inflammatory process. The airway undergoes profound bronchospasm and becomes edematous, while the permeability of the capillaries is augmented and mucus is over-produced. As a result, the airway is put at a considerable risk of mucus occlusion, which is the most common cause of death induced by status asthmaticus.
Secondary to mucus occlusion, pulmonary hyperinflation in combination with the distended alveoli and the mismatch in ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) can lead to severe hypoxia and potentially cardiac arrhythmias, which can also threaten the life of the patient   .
In order to manage status asthmaticus and prevent its recurrence, patients need to be educated concerning the medications they need to take at home, the treatment scheme and how to recognize a pending attack. Each individual suffering from asthma should avoid exposure to strong allergens.
Status asthmaticus is an acute attack of asthma that does not resolve with the administration of the standard treatment, which comprises β2 adrenergic antagonists . It may be caused by poor patient adherence to the treatment scheme, inadequate medications prescribed or the over-exposure to an allergen.
The attack may develop over the course of some days, or, in the most extreme cases, over a few hours; diagnosing the condition and treating it properly are pivotal in order to prevent respiratory and subsequently cardiac compromise .
A patient who presents with an asthma attack is initially treated with inhaled β2 adrenergic antagonists, corticosteroids, anticholinergic medications and oxygen. If the attack is refractory to continuous attempts, it is considered status asthmaticus and the patient needs to be monitored closely due to the considerable hazard which exists for the respiratory system. Based on clinical criteria, the decision to move the patient to an intensive care unit and intubate may be required to prevent complications.
A patient with diagnosed asthma can suffer an attack when they are exposed to an allergen they are very sensitive to, when they experience stress or when their condition is poorly managed. The individual finds it hard to breathe and usually fails to speak properly, because of the inadequate breathing. Other symptoms that may be displayed are more frequent pulses than usual (over 120 per minute) and wheezing sounds that may be heard by the doctor during auscultation or even with a bare ear.
Inhaled beta-antagonists are the first step to treat an asthmatic attack, together with corticosteroids, anticholinergics and oxygen. After these medications have been administered in repeated courses, if the patient does not respond, the condition is defined as status asthmaticus and it may seriously threaten the individual's life, as breathing is severely obstructed.
Patients with status asthmaticus are carefully monitored both as far as the respiratory system and the cardiac system are concerned, since they run the risk of succumbing to a heart attack, following respiratory failure. They are usually moved to an intensive care unit (ICU) and, as a last resort, intubation may be necessary to prevent extreme respiratory distress and failure.
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