Pulse Oximeter Plethysmograph Estimate of Pulsus Paradoxus as a Measure of Acute Asthma Exacerbation Severity and Response to Treatment

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Abstract

Objectives:

Pulsus paradoxus is one of the few objective bedside measures of acute asthma exacerbation severity but is difficult to measure in tachypneic and tachycardic patients and in noisy clinical environments. Our primary objective was to examine whether pulse oximeter plethysmograph estimate of pulsus paradoxus (PEP) is associated with physiologic and symptom measures of acute exacerbation severity (airway resistance by impulse oscillometry [%IOS] and the Acute Asthma Intensity Research Score [AAIRS]). Secondary objectives were to validate the previous association of PEP with percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (%FEV1) and to examine associations of change of PEP with change of these outcomes after 2 hours of treatment.

Methods:

This was a secondary analysis of data from a prospective observational study of patients aged 5–17 years with acute asthma exacerbations. The predictor variable, PEP, was measured using a dedicated pulse oximeter and waveform analysis program. Outcome measures included the AAIRS, %IOS, and %FEV1 at baseline and after 2 hours of treatment. We examined associations of PEP with %IOS and the AAIRS at baseline using multiple linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, and race. As secondary analyses we similarly examined the association of PEP with %FEV1 at baseline and change of PEP with change of %IOS, the AAIRS, and %FEV1 after 2 hours of treatment using multiple linear regression models adjusted for the baseline value of the outcome measure and the AAIRS.

Results:

Among 684 participants (61% males; 61% African American) there were associations of baseline PEP with %IOS, the AAIRS, and %FEV1 (p < 0.001). Change of PEP after 2 hours of treatment was associated with change of %FEV1 (p < 0.001) and change of the AAIRS (p = 0.01) but not with change of %IOS (p = 0.60).

Conclusions:

PEP demonstrates criterion validity in predicting baseline %IOS, the AAIRS, and %FEV1, and responsiveness to change of the AAIRS and %FEV1. Data contained in the oximeter plethysmograph waveform might be utilized as a continuous, objective measure of acute asthma exacerbation severity and real-time response to treatment.

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