Objective: To compare the efficacy of high-dose inhaled steroids in conjunction with IV steroids with that of IV steroids alone in the emergency treatment for acute asthma.
Methods: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was conducted on 60 ED patients presenting with acute asthma. All patients received nebulized salbutamol, and IV methylprednisolone, 80 mg at baseline and 40 mg at 6 hours. In addition to the above therapy, the experimental group received beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) 7 mg over 8 hours via a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) attached to a holding chamber, while the control group received a placebo administered in the same fashion. Patients were treated on the protocol for 12 hours with the primary outcome measure being the change in % predicted FEV1.
Results: Of 60 patients, 30 were randomized to BDP (age: 42 +/- 16 years; FEV1: 0.97 +/- 0.42 L) and 30 were randomized to placebo (age: 37 +/- 18 years; FEV1: 0.98 +/- 0.35 L). Spirometry and dyspnea measured by the Borg Scale improved significantly in both groups compared with baseline (p < 0.001). Changes in spirometry measures, dyspnea, and vital signs did not differ between treatment groups over the 12 hours of study (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Inhaled BDP added to the standard regimen of IV methylprednisolone, and beta-agonist did not further improve flow rates or dyspnea scores measured for up to 12 hours after presentation to the ED.