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Islamabad

January 4, 2016

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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome claimed over 50 lives in two months

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome claimed over 50 lives in two months

Islamabad

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) has emerged as one of the most serious life-threatening conditions, particularly for critically ill patients, in the region claiming not less than 50 lives in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi during last two months.

The data collected by ‘The News’ reveals that public sector hospitals in twin cities, including Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Federal Government Polyclinic, Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital, received over 250 patients with ARDS in last two months, November and December.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is the most devastating disease of lungs and not only public but a significant number of medical practitioners is unaware of various aspects of the problem.

ARDS is diagnosed when a person develops sudden respiratory failure within 24 to 72 hours with dangerously low oxygen content and massive secretions in the lungs. Such patients do not respond to conventional treatments and deteriorate even after oxygen and other medications are already given. The majority of ARDS patients need mechanical ventilator supports in ICU setting, said ICU Medical Specialist at PIMS Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’.

He said the PIMS received 97 patients with ARDS this winter, Federal Government Polyclinic received 33 patients, HFH received 46 patients, BBH received 42 patients and DHQ Hospital received 32 patients. The majority of patients of ARDS reported during this winter are the ones having flu, pneumonia, chest infections and other such ailments.

Studies reveal that the ARDS patient has severe air hunger and suffocation that abruptly starts within few hours and progress rapidly. Both lungs are filled with fluid that clogs the airways drowning patients in their own secretions. The only way out is high index of suspicion, early diagnosis and immediate treatment in an ICU. The ARDS patient needs ICU care for at least four weeks afterwards recovery starts and complete cure takes three to six months.

Dr. Haroon said that data shows 65 to 70 per cent mortality in ventilated patients and 90 to 100 per cent in non-ventilated patients in Pakistan. ARDS has killed over 50 patients in twin cities in last two months, he said.

The cause of death in the majority of cases was late presentation to the ICU while majority of patients died of the ARDS were those suffering from asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and diabetes along with critical complications, he said. He added there are many other causes of ARDS like severe infections, sepsis, pancreatitis, burns etc but respiratory infections are the most common in winter.

To a query, Dr. Haroon said to prevent ARDS, all people should get flu vaccination and those with pre existing lung diseases like asthma and COPD should get pneumonia vaccination as well.

He explained that the ARDS initially starts with lungs failure but involves other organs including heart, liver, kidneys and brain by doing hypoxic ischemic damage in all body. Young adults have better survival rates in ARDS as compared to children and elderly people, he said.

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