Electrolyte disturbances in acute asthma may be due to many factors, although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. The aim of our study was to determine the prevalence of electrolyte disturbance in patients admitted with acute asthma to our institution and to examine the association between electrolyte disturbance and the length of stay.
A retrospective, observational, hospital-based case-series study was carried out. The casenotes of 150 admissions for acute asthma were reviewed retrospectively. The initial serum electrolyte levels (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate), the initial and current medications and the length of stay of each admission were noted. Statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 10.0.5.
Electrolyte disturbance was present in 45.3% of the admissions. Among these, 70.6% had one electrolyte disturbance, 25% had 2 electrolyte disturbances and 4.4% had 3 electrolyte disturbances. Electrolyte disturbance was not significantly associated with an increased length of stay of the admissions. Logistic regression analysis showed significant association between steroid therapy and hypokalaemia (p=0.046), and between steroid therapy and the number of electrolyte disturbances (p=0.005). There was no significant association between beta2-agonist therapy and electrolyte disturbance.
Electrolyte disturbance was common among admissions presenting with acute asthma. Electrolyte disturbance was not associated with increased length of stay.
The high prevalence of electrolyte disturbance serves to highlight the importance of maintenance of electrolyte balance that is emphasised in the supportive treatment of acute asthma.
K. Tan, None.