Critical Asthma Syndrome in the ICU

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13 Scopus citations


Critical asthma syndrome represents the most severe subset of asthma exacerbations, and the critical asthma syndrome is an umbrella term for life-threatening asthma, status asthmaticus, and near-fatal asthma. According to the 2007 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program guidelines, a life-threatening asthma exacerbation is marked by an inability to speak, a reduced peak expiratory flow rate of <25 % of a patient's personal best, and a failed response to frequent bronchodilator administration and intravenous steroids. Almost all critical asthma syndrome cases require emergency care, and most cases require hospitalization, often in an intensive care unit. Among asthmatics, those with the critical asthma syndrome are difficult to manage and there is little room for error. Patients with the critical asthma syndrome are prone to complications, they utilize immense resources, and they incite anxiety in many care providers. Managing this syndrome is anything but routine, and it requires attention, alacrity, and accuracy. The specific management strategies of adults with the critical asthma syndrome in the hospital with a focus on intensive care are discussed. Topics include the initial assessment for critical illness, initial ventilation management, hemodynamic issues, novel diagnostic tools and interventions, and common pitfalls. We highlight the use of critical care ultrasound, and we provide practical guidelines on how to manage deteriorating patients such as those with pneumothoraces. When standard asthma management fails, we provide experience-driven recommendations coupled with available evidence to guide the care team through advanced treatment. Though we do not discuss medications in detail, we highlight recent advances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
StateAccepted/In press - 2013


  • Anesthetics
  • Critical asthma syndrome
  • Critical care ultrasound
  • Life-threatening asthma
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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