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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

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

Stéphane Jorge1, Marie-Hélène Becquemin2, Samuel Delerme1, Mohamed Bennaceur1, Richard Isnard3, Rony Achkar1, Bruno Riou1, Jacques Boddaert1 and Patrick Ray1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Emergency Medicine and Surgery, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire (CHU) Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance-Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), 47–83 boulevard de l'Hopital, 75013 Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, France

2 Laboratory of pulmonary fonction test, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire (CHU) Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance-Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), 47–83 boulevard de l'Hopital, 75013 Paris, Université Denis Diderot and UPRES 2397, France

3 Department of cardiology. Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire (CHU) Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance-Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), 47–83 boulevard de l'Hopital, 75013 Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, France

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2007, 7:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-7-16

Published: 14 May 2007

Abstract

Background

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.

Methods

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

Results

Two hundred and twelve consecutive patients aged ≥ 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.

Conclusion

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.