Certain conditions including allergic asthma, environmental allergies, and allergic eczema are linked to a risk of heart and vascular disease, according to recent studies by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who also found that some asthma medications may increase or decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Cardiovascular Research on Monday, and the research was conducted by Brigham’s experts in cardiology, pulmonology and basic research science, the hospital said in a statement.
The statement said investigators in the studies lay out the evidence for allergic asthma and other associated allergies being risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They also demonstrate how asthma medications may influence the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the statement.
The researchers, the statement said, describe clinical studies linking asthma with conditions such as coronary heart disease, aortic disease, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart failure and other cardiac complications.
The findings, the statement said, also point to a link between cardiovascular disease and related allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis triggered by pollen and other environmental factors, allergic eczema, and severe food and drug allergies.
On the medication front, the researchers found that inhaled albuterol, commonly used as “rescue inhalers” during acute asthma attacks, seemed to reduce cardiovascular risk, as did inhaled corticosteroids such as fluticasone propionate and budesonide.
However, the statement said, researchers found that oral and intravenous corticosteroids such as prednisone appeared to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile leukotriene modifiers such as montelukast had beneficial effects, reducing inflammation, blood lipid levels and cardiovascular events, while anti-asthma antibodies like omalizumab had mixed results, with one study finding increased risk and others showing reduced risk of cardiovascular disease or no effect on the risk level, the statement said.
“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 study author Guo-Ping Shi, a principal investigator in Brigham’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, in the statement.
“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,” Shi continued.