Warn­ing over asthma at­tacks


David Kirk­patrick be­lieves his daugh­ter might still be alive if she had been more aware of the lifethreat­en­ing risks of asthma.

‘‘I think she took for granted [the fact] that when she was OK, she was OK, but it’s like a flick of a switch,’’ he said.

Ali­cia Kirk­patrick, a 29-yearold mu­si­cian, suf­fered a fa­tal asthma at­tack while in a car in back coun­try near Gis­borne on Au­gust 28.

Her three daugh­ters - aged 11, 9 and 17 months - were in the car at the time.

Be­tween 60 and 70 Ki­wis die from asthma-re­lated prob­lems ev­ery year.

That fig­ure has tracked down­ward slightly since 2000. But both Kirk­patrick and the Asthma and Res­pi­ra­tory Foun­da­tion be­lieve there is a greater need for ed­u­ca­tion about the dan­gers of the con­di­tion.

‘‘Asthma is a killer and it de­stroys fam­i­lies, just like car crashes and ev­ery­thing else,’’ David Kirk­patrick said.

Ali­cia’s heart stopped in an ear­lier se­ri­ous at­tack at her home in May.

‘‘The first at­tack, as bad as it was, even that wasn’t enough to keep her on top of it,’’ Kirk­patrick said.

‘‘She was more into help­ing ev­ery­body else than help­ing her­self.’’

When the sec­ond at­tack in Au­gust came on she was about 30km away from home, with no cell­phone re­cep­tion, no land­line and no easy ac­cess to emer­gency ser­vices, Kirk­patrick said.

Asthma and Res­pi­ra­tory Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Leti­tia O’Dwyer said in cases of se­vere and sud­den at­tacks some deaths will al­ways be in­evitable.

‘‘If you can’t get to an am­bu­lance that’s al­ways go­ing to hap­pen, but what we want to do is try and ed­u­cate.’’

She said it was im­por­tant peo­ple knew the im­por­tance of us­ing pre­ven­ters as well as in­halers.

Preven­ter in­halers - usu­ally brown or or­ange - treat the in­flam­ma­tion in­side air­ways and pre­vent swelling.

Reg­u­lar in­halers, or re­liev­ers, bring short term re­lief but do not treat the swelling.

Ali­cia Kirk­patrick

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