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 in speaking in full sentences, diaphoresis, sternocleidomastoid muscle retraction, tachycardia, and tachypnea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Respiratory Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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