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Are Asthma Attacks Fatal?

Health Care
Thursday, October 06, 2022


Asthma affects almost a quarter of children and up to 15% of Adults in Malaysia. [1] With the advances in asthma medication, deaths due to asthma attacks are getting rarer. However, in a severe asthma attack, severe airway constriction could restrict your breathing significantly, leading to hospitalizations or even death. Thus, knowing the signs are soo important.
Severe Asthma Attack Signs [2]
In a severe asthma attack, urgent medical attention is required. Here are the severe asthma attack signs to monitor:  
  • Reliever Inhaler* medication not working.  
  • Unable to speak more than small phrases or words.  
  • Low peak flow readings when you use a peak flow monitor.  
  • Feelings of drowsiness/confusion.  
  • Breathlessness. 

Recognizing these signs can save a life.  

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What to do during an asthma attack [3] 

Long-term asthma medications are designed to reduce the risk of attacks when taken as prescribed. But what should you do if you are suffering from an asthma attack? These steps are a general guide, it may differ for individuals with different asthma action plans.  

Step 1: Sit up straight and try to keep calm 

Step 2: Take one puff of your reliever inhaler* every 30 – 60 seconds up to a maximum of 10 puffs.  

Step 3: If you are feeling worse or symptoms are not improving. Call 999 for an ambulance. If the wait is longer than 10-15 minutes, repeat step 2.  

Uncontrolled asthma is a risk factor for a severe asthma attack, be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice [4]: 

  • Night waking due to asthma 
  • Reliever inhaler* needed more than 2 times a week.  
  • Activity limitation due to asthma.  
  • Daytime symptoms more than twice/week? 

Need a free asthma check? For the rest of 2022, get a FREE asthma screening at any BIG Pharmacy outlet today! Act now before it's too late! 

*SABA reliever inhaler 


  1. Understanding Asthma. (2022). from https://asthmamalaysia.org/understanding-asthma/ World Health Organization Mortality Database. Global Health Estimates 2016: 
  2. Asthma attack - Symptoms and causes. (2022). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20354268
  3. Your Asthma action plans | Asthma+ Lung UK. (2020). Retrieved  from https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/manage-your-asthma/action-plan/ 
  4. GINA. (2020). POCKET GUIDE FOR ASTHMA MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION [Ebook] (p. 15). GLOBAL INITIATIVE FOR ASTHMA. Retrieved from https://ginasthma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Main-pocket-guide_2020_04_03-final-wms.pdf 
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