Acute asthma is a common disease presentation to the emergency department (ED) in many countries. Treatment of acute asthma is based on rapid reversal of bronchospasm and arresting airway inflammation. The main agents employed to treat acute asthma include combined treatments with bronchodilating agents and corticosteroids. However, there is evidence that helium and oxygen mixtures (heliox) may provide additional benefits to patients with acute asthma. This review examines the evidence from ten randomised controlled trials involving 544 patients which compared heliox to oxygen or air, when used in conjunction with the other standard acute treatments. The reviewers conclude that the evidence does not support routine use of heliox in patients with acute asthma.
Heliox (mixture of helium and oxygen) compared to either oxygen or air for people with acute asthma
6 October 2010
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