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ACE-I Angioedema: Accurate Clinical Diagnosis May Prevent Epinephrine-Induced Harm

  • Author(s): Curtis, R. Mason
  • Felder, Sarah
  • Borici-Mazi, Rozita
  • Ball, Ian
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: Upper airway angioedema is a life-threatening emergency department (ED) presentation with increasing incidence. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor induced angioedema (AAE) is a non-mast cell mediated etiology of angioedema. Accurate diagnosis by clinical examination can optimize patient management and reduce morbidity from inappropriate treatment with epinephrine. The aim of this study is to describe the incidence of angioedema subtypes and the management of AAE. We evaluate the appropriateness of treatments and highlight preventable iatrogenic morbidity.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of consecutive angioedema patients presenting to two tertiary care EDs between July 2007 and March 2012.

Results: Of 1,702 medical records screened, 527 were included. The cause of angioedema was identified in 48.8% (n=257) of cases. The most common identifiable etiology was AAE (33.1%, n=85), with a 60.0% male predominance. The most common AAE management strategies included diphenhydramine (63.5%, n=54), corticosteroids (50.6%, n=43) and ranitidine (31.8%, n=27). Epinephrine was administered in 21.2% (n=18) of AAE patients, five of whom received repeated doses. Four AAE patients required admission (4.7%) and one required endotracheal intubation. Epinephrine induced morbidity in two patients, causing myocardial ischemia or dysrhythmia shortly after administration.

Conclusion: AAE is the most common identifiable etiology of angioedema and can be accurately diagnosed by physical examination. It is easily confused with anaphylaxis and mismanaged with antihistamines, corticosteroids and epinephrine. There is little physiologic rationale for epinephrine use in AAE and much risk. Improved clinical differentiation of mast cell and non-mast cell mediated angioedema can optimize patient management.

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