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Clinical, Pathologic, and Toxicologic Findings in Asthma Deaths in Cook County, Illinois

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To identify factors contributing to asthma mortality and improve our understanding of airway pathology in fatal asthma, we studied 44 cases of fatal asthma using records of one pathologist in the Office of the Medical Examiner. Records included death certificates, autopsies, toxicology, accounts by family and friends of the terminal episode, medical history of the deceased, police and paramedic reports, and hospital charts. Additionally, we interviewed by telephone surviving family and friends. Six (17%) of 35 patients were using inhaled corticosteroids at time of death. Of the nine patients who had seen a physician within 2 weeks of death, two were using corticosteroids. Toxicology was positive in 16 (38%) of 42 cases. Of the 20 patients with sudden-onset asthma (prodrome of increasing symptoms < 1 hour before death), 9 (45%) had positive toxicology. Patients with both sudden-onset and slow-onset asthma (prodrome > 3 hours before death) had airway mucosal or submucosal eosinophilic or neutrophilic infiltrates or both, as well as airways with and without mucus plugging. These findings indicate that asthma deaths are confounded by substance abuse and lack of anti-inflammatory therapy, and there is a heterogeneity in histological findings in sudden-onset and slow-onset asthma.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 2001-09-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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