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.