“The Nursing &
Management of a Patient with an Acute Exacerbation of their Asthma"Between 10 and 20 per cent control their condition well, but there continues to be about 2,000 deaths a year (Dolan and Holt 2000, Davies-Gray 2000, Eaton 2002, Resuscitation Council (UK) 2000).
British Heart Foundation (2003) statistics show that mortality from coronary heart disease is falling significantly, and, although the number of asthma deaths is small by comparison, the static nature of asthma mortality rates is alarming especially because asthma deaths are probably more preventable than those from direct cardiac causes are.
Asthma is defined as narrowing of the airways, which is reversible either spontaneously or because of treatment. The well-known symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, wheeze and cough which may develop suddenly, in an acute attack, or over a period. Nurses need to be aware that adult people with asthma who experience breathlessness associated with activities of daily living, such as putting out washing or walking up stairs, may discount these symptoms and put them down to old age and lack of fitness, when in fact it may be their asthma becoming increasingly active and uncontrolled.
The Stages of an Acute Attack are very terrible for the affected patients. These symptoms often start out similar to a usual attack. coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and recession (drawing in the flesh between the ribs and sternum). In an acute attack, however, the symptoms persist, and become more marked or even change in nature.
The asthmatic often becomes quiet and withdrawn, focusing on the struggle to breathe. The patient sits hunched over, which enables the muscles of the upper body to help expand the chest and consequently the lungs.