Adrenal crisis in treated Addison's disease: a predictable but under-managed event

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Abstract

Context: Adrenal crisis is a life-threatening event that occurs regularly in Addison's patients receiving standard replacement therapy. Patient reports suggest that it is an underestimated and under-managed event. Objective: To assess the frequency of adrenal crisis in diagnosed patients and to understand the factors contributing to the risks of adrenal crisis. Design: We conducted a postal survey of Addison's patients in four countries, UK (n=485), Canada (n=148), Australia (n=123) and New Zealand (n=85) in 2003, asking about patients' experiences of adrenal crisis and their demographic characteristics. In 2006, a shorter follow-up survey was conducted in the UK (n=261). Method: The frequency and causes of adrenal crisis were compared across both surveys. Demographic data from the 2003 survey were analysed to establish the main variables associated with an elevated risk of crisis. Results: Around 8% of diagnosed cases can be expected to need hospital treatment for adrenal crisis annually. Exposure to gastric infection is the single most important factor predicting the likelihood of adrenal crisis. Concomitant diabetes and/or asthma increase the frequency of adrenal crises reported by patients. Conclusion: The endocrinologist has a responsibility to ensure that Addison's patients have adequate access to life-saving emergency injection materials and repeated, practical training sessions in how to use them, while the general practitioner plays a vital role as in arranging prompt emergency admissions.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Volume162
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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