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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004 Jul;93(1):29-35.

Rates and characteristics of intensive care unit admissions and intubations among asthma-related hospitalizations.

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GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.



A life-threatening attack of asthma that leads to intensive care unit (ICU) admission, intubation, or both identifies patients at high risk of subsequent morbidity and mortality and represents a major cost burden.


To assess the rates, characteristics, and costs of ICU admissions and intubations among asthma-related hospitalizations.


This analysis was performed using a database of 215 hospitals representing more than 3 million annual inpatient visits. Asthma-related hospital admissions were identified by a primary diagnosis code for asthma during 2000. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) for predictors of ICU admission, intubation, and in-hospital mortality. Ordinary least squares regression was used to estimate adjusted mean costs and length of stay.


Of 29,430 admissions with a primary diagnosis of asthma, 10.1% were admitted to the ICU and 2.1% were intubated. The risk of in-hospital death was significantly greater in patients who were intubated but not admitted to the ICU (OR, 96.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 50.24-184.20), those who were admitted to the ICU and intubated (OR, 62.69; 95% CI, 38.17-102.96), and patients with more severe comorbidities (OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.38-1.70). On average, intubated patients stayed in the hospital 4.5 days longer and incurred more than $11,000 in additional costs; patients admitted to the ICU stayed 1 day longer and accounted for $3,000 in additional costs vs standard admissions.


The inpatient mortality, morbidity, and cost burden of life-threatening asthma in the United States is considerable. This study characterizes patients with asthma at risk of ICU admissions and intubations. Appropriate recognition and treatment are needed to prevent these severe and potentially life-threatening events.

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