Asthma is a lung disease that makes the movement of air harder in and out your lungs. This condition makes the person have difficulty in breathing and results in coughing and cause a wheezing sound while breathing out.

While asthma is a respiratory disorder, it can affect the heart in more ways than one ways, such as,  leading to a risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, stroke or related conditions. There is an influence of gender, however, robust evidence of this relationship is still limited.

Here’s what is known so far.

Asthma and Heart Diseases

Numerous studies are being carried out to understand the relation between asthma and heart (cardiovascular) diseases like coronary heart disease. One such studies reported that air pollution can trigger both asthma attack and heart attacks, stroke, irregular heart rhythms (arrythmia) – particularly in people who are already at risk of these conditions.

In people with a heart failure condition, air pollution can further deteriorate the heart’s condition by affecting the ability of heart to pump blood the way it should. Two key air pollutants responsible are smog and particle pollution.

Connection between Asthma and Heart attacks

Asthma in children is easier to detect as children show symptoms of the condition and have an asthma attack. Whereas, asthma in older adults is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms such as shortness of breath tend to overlap with other health conditions, such as heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Other times, underlying reasons of coughing and shortness of breath can be mistaken in senior adults as signs of physical activity.

According to some recent studies from the American Heart Association, it was found that people who are diagnosed with asthma have a higher risk of getting a heart attack. In people who used asthma medications regularly were at least 60-70% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiac situations when compared with people without asthma. Both asthma and heart disease are tied to inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is the body’s attempt to heal the tissues from trauma, infection or other damage.

Some inflammation is good, but chronic inflammation like in cases of nasal allergies and asthma – can cause permanent damage. In people who are maintaining their asthma control with medications and other lifestyle adjustments are at a greater benefit of experiencing better quality of life. Having a controlled asthma condition, enables the individual to identify any strange symptoms that could indicate other health conditions.

Apart from regular medications, lifestyle adjustments being able to avoid and manage triggers could go a long way, such as avoiding places with heavily polluted air or quitting smoking. This is a good way to deter asthma.

Asthma doubles the risk of heart failure

According to a new research, active asthma (meaning current asthma symptoms) can double the risk of heart attacks, strokes, etc. and daily intake of medicines for asthma can increase the risk of a cardiovascular event by 60% over the 10 years.

Chest discomfort or pain can be confused as a symptom of asthma. Patients need to seek immediate medical conditions upon having chest pain and heart attack related symptoms.

Cardiac Asthma

Cardiac asthma is not as suggestive as its name. It is a type of coughing and wheezing sound that comes while you try to breathe out during a heart failure. This happens due to fluid build up in and around the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

These symptoms are similar to asthma. While asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways of lungs, it has nothing to do with fluid in the lungs – like in case of cardiac asthma.

Timely differentiation of symptoms is important to treat the case of heart failure. Using same treatment as asthma can be harmful or worsen the disease situation in the concerned individual.

What to do?

Below is a list of things that can be done with what you’ve learned so far:

  1. Treating and managing existing health conditions, including asthma is vital to prevent heart attacks.
  2. On observance of strange symptoms, they should be reported to your healthcare provider. So that, timely diagnosis can minimize the effects and provide effective treatment.
  3. Along with the patients, the caregivers and family members should be aware of asthma symptoms and cardiac events.

References:

  1. Cardiac asthma: What causes it? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/expert-answers/cardiac-asthma/faq-20058447 Accessed on 07-05-2022
  2. Asthma and Heart Disease. AirNow. https://www.airnow.gov/air-quality-and-health/asthma-and-heart-disease/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  3. Asthma and risk of cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. Annals of Saudi medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6150547/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  4. Association of asthma with coronary heart disease: A meta analysis of 11 trials. PLOS One. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469478/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  5. Asthma. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653 Accessed on 07-05-2022
  6. Cardiac asthma: What causes it? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/expert-answers/cardiac-asthma/faq-20058447 Accessed on 07-05-2022
  7. Asthma and Heart Disease. AirNow. https://www.airnow.gov/air-quality-and-health/asthma-and-heart-disease/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  8. Asthma and risk of cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. Annals of Saudi medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6150547/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  9. Association of asthma with coronary heart disease: A meta analysis of 11 trials. PLOS One. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469478/ Accessed on 07-05-2022
  10. Asthma. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653 Accessed on 07-05-2022

Asthma and Heart disease: Is there a relationship ?

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