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1. sharp.
2. having severe symptoms and a short course. Some serious illnesses that were formerly considered acute (such as myocardial infarction) are now recognized to be acute episodes of chronic conditions.
acute care the level of care in the health care system that consists of emergency treatment and critical care. Called also secondary care.
acute coronary syndrome a classification encompassing clinical presentations ranging from unstable angina through myocardial infarctions not characterized by alterations in Q waves; the classification sometimes also includes myocardial infarctions characterized by altered Q waves.
acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) a group of symptoms accompanying fulminant pulmonary edema and resulting in acute respiratory failure; called also shock lung, wet lung, and many other names descriptive of etiology or clinical manifestations. Many etiologic factors have been associated with ARDS, including shock, fat embolism, fluid overload, oxygen toxicity, fluid aspiration, narcotic overdose, disseminated intravascular coagulation, multiple transfusions, inhalation of toxic gases, diffuse pulmonary infection, and systemic reactions to sepsis, pancreatitis, and massive trauma or burns.

ARDS is characterized clinically by dyspnea, tachypnea, tachycardia, cyanosis, and hypoxemia. PaO2/FIO2 remains low (below 2 cc) even with oxygen therapy at high oxygen concentrations. The lung compliance is decreased so that the lung is stiffer and more difficult to ventilate. Chest radiographs show signs of bilateral interstitial and alveolar edema. Cardiac filling pressures are normal, and the pulmonary capillary wedge pressure is below 18 torr.

Most authorities consider that the syndrome has three phases or stages that characterize its progression: the exudative stage, the fibroproliferative or proliferative stage, and the resolution or recovery stage. The exudative stage comes first, two to four days after onset of lung injury, and is distinguished by the accumulation of excessive fluid in the alveoli with entrance of protein and inflammatory cells from the alveolar capillaries into the air spaces. The fibroproliferative stage comes second and is characterized by an increase in connective tissue and other structural elements in the lungs in response to the initial injury. It begins between the first and third weeks after the initial injury and may last up to ten weeks. Microscopic examination reveals lung tissue that appears densely cellular. The patient is at risk for pneumonia, sepsis, and pneumothorax at this time. The third stage is the resolution or recovery stage. During this stage the lung reorganizes and recovers, although it continues to show signs of fibrosis. Lung function may continue to improve for as long as six to twelve months or even longer, depending on the precipitating condition and severity of the injury. It is important to remember that there are often different levels of pulmonary recovery in patients with ARDS.

Some authorities refer to a fourth phase or stage of ARDS, the period after the resolution or recovery stage. Some patients continue to experience health problems caused by the acute illness, such as coughing, limited exercise tolerance, and fatigue. Anxiety, depression, and flashback memories of the critical illness may also occur and be similar to posttraumatic stress disorder.
Treatment and Patient Care. Mechanical ventilation must be begun at the first signs of hyperventilation and hypoxemia, before obvious signs of respiratory distress develop. A cuffed endotracheal tube or tracheostomy tube is used to maintain an airway. The patient is ventilated at the lowest oxygen concentration that maintains the arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) at 90 per cent. positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be used to increase the number of alveoli that remain open at the end of exhalation and thus decrease pulmonary shunt. hemodynamic monitoring, using a swan-ganz catheter, is done to measure cardiac output, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, and right atrial wedge pressure. An arterial line is placed to continuously monitor blood pressure and measure arterial blood gases. A diuretic such as furosemide (Lasix) may be administered to reduce fluid volume overload and pulmonary edema. If infection develops, antibiotics are administered. Hemodynamic parameters, arterial blood gas levels, intake and output, breath sounds, vital signs, inspiratory pressure, tidal volume, inspired oxygen concentration, and end-expiratory pressure are all continuously monitored.
acute situational reaction a transient, self-limiting acute emotional reaction to severe psychological stress. See acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and brief reactive psychosis.
acute stress disorder an anxiety disorder characterized by development of anxiety, dissociation, and other symptoms within one month following exposure to an extremely traumatic event, the symptoms including reexperiencing the event, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, anxiety or increased arousal, and some or all of the following: a subjective sense of diminished emotional responsiveness, numbing, or detachment, derealization, depersonalization, and amnesia for aspects of the event. If persistent, it may become posttraumatic stress disorder.
acute stress reaction acute situational reaction.


(ă-kyūt'), Avoid the jargonistic use of this word to refer to short-term therapy, as in acute sedation.
1. Referring to a health effect, usually of rapid onset, brief, not prolonged; sometimes loosely used to mean severe.
2. Referring to exposure, brief, intense, short-term; sometimes specifically referring to brief exposure of high intensity.
[L. acutus, sharp]


1. Extremely sharp or severe; intense: acute pain; acute pleasure.
2. Medicine
a. Having a rapid onset and following a short but severe course: an acute disease.
b. Afflicted by a disease exhibiting a rapid onset followed by a short, severe course: acute patients.

a·cute′ly adv.
a·cute′ness n.


Referring to a condition of rapid onset which is often accompanied by severe symptoms and is of generally brief duration.


(1) Analysis of Coronary Ultrasound Thrombolysis Endpoints in Acute Myocardial Infarction. A trial that studied the feasibility of ultrasound thrombolysis (UT) in patients with coronary artery occlusion.
Primary endpoints
MACE at 6 months; 39 patients.
1 death, 1 re-infarction at a new lesion; the left ventricular ejection fraction at follow-up increased by 29%, from 45 to 74%; primary coronary UT in high clot-burden lesions induces re-perfusion and highly significant myocardial salvage.

(2) Assessment of Cardioversion Utilizing Transesophageal Echocardiography. A trial comparing the feasibility and safety of TEE-guided early cardioversion to conventional cardioversion in atrial fibrillation.
Mortality slightly higher with TEE, but more patients restored to sinus rhythm with TEE; neither statistically significant.


adjective Of abrupt onset, or short duration, usually of hrs or days in duration, used in reference to a disease or symptoms. Cf Chronic, Subacute.


1. Referring to a disease of sudden onset and brief course, not chronic, sometimes loosely used to mean severe.
2. Referring to treatment or exposure: brief, intense, short-term; sometimes specifically referring to brief exposure of high intensity.
[L. acutus, sharp]


Short, sharp and quickly over. Acute conditions usually start abruptly, last for a few days and then either settle or become persistent and long-lasting (CHRONIC). From the Latin acutus , sharp.


  1. (of plant structures such as leaves) sharply pointed.
  2. (of a disease) coming quickly to a crisis.
  3. (of a radiation dose) applied at a high level in a short space of time. Compare CHRONIC.


Of short and sharp course. Illnesses that are acute appear quickly and can be serious or life-threatening. The illness ends and the patient usually recovers fully.


1. Referring to a health effect, usually of rapid onset, brief, not prolonged; sometimes loosely used to mean severe.
2. Referring to exposure, brief, intense, short-term; sometimes specifically referring to brief exposure of high intensity.
[L. acutus, sharp]

Patient discussion about acute

Q. What is Acute Appendictis? My husband had to go to the emergency room last night because of sudden severe stomach aches. The doctors said he had acute appendictis and needed urgent operation. What is acute appendicitis?

A. The term 'Appendictis' refers to an inflammed appendix, an organ that is located in the right lower part of the abdomen, attached to the cecum, which is a part of the intestine. The appendix is often infected with intestinal bacteria, and such an infection can cause severe symptoms, that require receiving emergent medical care. If indeed acute appendicitis is diagnosed, the treatment involves immediate surgery, for the removal of the infected appendix.

Q. I had an acute neck pain and now hand pain. I had an acute neck pain which is now gone with some self medication but now i have pain in my left hand muscles. Help

A. can be caused by number of things. but you have to be more specific, what kind of pain? when is it ? mornings? evenings? does it last or is it transient? maybe you play the guitar too much and your muscles ache? :)

Q. What Causes Acute Appendicitis? I've heard that appendicitis is a very common situation. What causes it to happen? Is there a way to avoid it?

A. Appendicitis is caused by an infection of the appendix, usually from bacterias that are already located in the abdomen. It is not a situation that can be avoided and can occur in a high prevalence in the population.

More discussions about acute
References in periodicals archive ?
The full back ran onto Elano's pass and somehow managed to blast his shot into the net from the acutest of angles in the 55th minute of the Group G match before Elano added another 17 minutes later.
Cracking He allowed Martin Riley's through ball to run between his legs, enabling Spencer to pounce and fire past Ireland from the acutest of angles.
Mattessich then demonstrates that Sylvie and Ruth have ambivalence about the world, and he eventually argues that Robinson shows that "fluctuations of the spirit are at their most material and the sacred is indeed acutest at its vanishing" (83).
One of Bataille's acutest insights turns on the necessity of spectacle in ritual sacrifice: it forefronts the negativity of death, made visible through identification with the victim who dies.
Lex fought back well and levelled when Keiron Duckett scored from the acutest of angles on 78 minutes.
AS Ab Fab's Edina Monsoon, she didn't exactly display the acutest sense of style, parading a wardrobe of OTT Christian Lacroix or nothing.
Fiscal stimuli introduced in several members of the Euro Area at the turn of the year, while supporting demand during the acutest recession the Euro Area has ever experienced, pose a serious burden to public finances.
The acutest security challenge, in addition to beating back the internal insurgency, remains that of resolving the major sources of conflicts in Pakistan's surrounding region.
Iwelumo took his season's tally to 14 when Edwards threaded through a precision pass which the Scotsman took around defender Gary Naysmith and goalkeeper Paddy Kenny before cracking home from the acutest of angles.
As Wallace Stevens writes: The deepening need for words to express our thoughts and feelings which, we are sure, are all the truth that we shall ever experience, having no illusions, makes us listen to words when we hear them, loving them and feeling them, makes us search the sound of them, for a finality, a perfection, an unalterable vibration, which it is only within the power of the acutest poet to give them.
except under the pressure of the acutest grief (Darwin, 1979, p153).
For nineteenth-century biographers, one of the most compelling examples of this occurrence came with the collapse of the friendship in 1835 between le Mont Blanc of French Romanticism and the man whom Henry James would call 'the acutest critic the world has seen' (cited on p.