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BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2007 May 14;7:16.

Cardiac asthma in elderly patients: incidence, clinical presentation and outcome.

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Department of Emergency Medicine and Surgery, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire (CHU) Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance-Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, France. <>



Cardiac asthma is common, but has been poorly investigated. The objective was to compare the characteristics and outcome of cardiac asthma with that of classical congestive heart failure (CHF) in elderly patients.


Prospective study in an 1,800-bed teaching hospital.


Two hundred and twelve consecutive patients aged > or = 65 years presenting with dyspnea due to CHF (mean age of 82 +/- 8 years) were included. Findings of cardiac echocardiography and natriuretic peptides levels were used to confirm CHF. Cardiac asthma patients were defined as a patient with CHF and wheezing reported by attending physician upon admission to the emergency department. The CHF group (n = 137) and the cardiac asthma group (n = 75), differed for tobacco use (34% vs. 59%, p < 0.05), history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (16% vs. 47%, p < 0.05), peripheral arterial disease (10% vs. 24%, p < 0.05). Patients with cardiac asthma had a significantly lower pH (7.38 +/- 0.08 vs. 7.43 +/- 0.06, p < 0.05), and a higher PaCO2 (47 +/- 15 vs. 41 +/- 11 mmHg, p < 0.05) at admission. In the cardiac asthma group, patients had greater distal airway obstruction: forced expiratory volume in 1 second of 1.09 vs. 1.33 Liter (p < 0.05), and a forced expiratory flow at 25% to 75% of vital capacity of 0.76 vs. 0.99 Liter (p < 0.05). The in-hospital (23% vs. 19%) and one year mortality (48% vs. 43%) rates were similar.


Patients with cardiac asthma represented one third of CHF in elderly patients. They were more hypercapnic and experienced more distal airway obstruction. However, outcomes were similar.

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