Objectives To describe the patient demographics, outcomes and trends of admissions with acute severe asthma admitted to adult critical care units in England and Wales.
Design 10-year, retrospective analysis of a national audit database.
Setting Secondary care: adult, general critical care units in the UK.
Participants 830 808 admissions to adult, general critical care units.
Primary and secondary outcome measures Demographic data including age and sex, whether the patient was invasively ventilated or not, length of stay (LOS; both in the critical care unit and acute hospital), survival (both critical care unit and acute hospital) and time trends across the 10-year period.
Results Over the 10-year period, there were 11 948 (1.4% of total) admissions with asthma to adult critical care units in England and Wales. Among them 67.5% were female and 32.5% were male (RR F:M 2.1; 95% CI 2.0 to 2.1). Median LOS in the critical care unit was 1.8 days (IQR 0.9–3.8). Median LOS in the acute hospital was 7 days (IQR 4–14). Critical care unit survival rate was 95.5%. Survival at discharge from hospital was 93.3%. There was an increase in admissions to adult critical care units by an average of 4.7% (95% CI 2.8 to 6.7)/year.
Conclusions Acute asthma represents a modest burden of work for adult critical care units in England and Wales. Demographic patterns for admission to critical care unit mirror those of severe asthma in the general adult community. The number of critical care admissions with asthma are rising, although we were unable to discern whether this represents a true increase in the incidence of acute asthma or asthma severity.
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