Life-threatening asthma, Part 1: Identifying the risk factors

Hilary Goldberg, Jay Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In most patients, a life-threatening exacerbation of asthma is preceded by a gradual worsening of symptoms. However, some patients have a sudden onset of worsening symptoms, and these patients are at increased risk for respiratory failure and death. Risk factors for near-fatal asthma include a history of a life-threatening exacerbation, hospitalization for asthma within the past year, delay in time to evaluation after the onset of symptoms, and a history of psychosocial problems. Regularly monitoring peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) is particularly important because it can identify a subset of high-risk patients - specifically, those with large fluctuations in PEFR and those who have severe obstruction but minimal symptoms. Signs of life-threatening asthma include inability to lie supine, difficulty with speaking in full sentences, diaphoresis, sternocleidomastoid muscle retraction, tachycardia, and tachypnea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-612
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 2006


  • Asthma
  • Evaluation
  • Peak expiratory flow rate
  • Respiratory failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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