Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, with an average of one death every three minutes. A new study has found a surprising link between asthma and allergies and an increased risk of heart disease
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However, mounting evidence from both basic research and clinical studies point to another common condition that may be associated with risk of heart attacks or cardiovascular diseases (CVD): allergic asthma.
A recent study published in Nature Cardiovascular Research found evidence demonstrating how allergic asthma and other associated allergies may be risk factors for CVD, and how medications given to treat asthma may also influence risk of CVD.
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In fact, data from the National Health Interview Survey demonstrated adults with a history of allergic disorders have an increased risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
“Many people think of asthma as a disease of the lungs, but there’s an important link between asthma and cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart diseases, hypertension and more,” said corresponding author Guo-Ping Shi, ScD, a principal investigator in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
“I’ve studied this area for more than 20 years, and the evidence we see from clinical trials as well as basic research points to allergic asthma as an important risk factor that clinicians and patients need to be aware of when considering personal risk.”
“We can’t really show causality, but science does show it’s connected to pro-inflammatory mediators, things that trigger inflammation in the body,” added pulmonologist Doctor Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.
“Histamines, for example, boost blood flow into the area the allergen attacks, which causes the immune system to send antibodies, thus triggering inflammation.
“That’s why many allergy medications are antihistamines, designed to counter that inflammatory response.
“Antihistamines constrict blood flow, as can other over-the-counter allergy medications.
“Those narrow the blood vessels not only in the nose but the rest of the body, which can lead to high blood pressure and an increased heart rate.”
Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases
There are several factors that put certain people at risk of developing heart disease. These are:
- High cholesterol
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history of CVD
- Ethnic background
How to lower your risk of heart disease
There are several ways you can reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), such as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, says the NHS.
The national health body adds: “A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, which should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.
“You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.
“Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight.
“Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.”