Millions living with asthma at 'increased risk of two silent killers', scientists discover | The Sun

PEOPLE with asthma have an increased risk of developing two often fatal conditions than those experts have warned.

Around eight million people in the UK have asthma – which accounts for around 12 per cent of the population.

New research has found that having asthma doubles your risk of experiencing both a heart attack and stroke.

This is because the majority of those with the condition have more plaque buildup in the carotid arteries, than those without asthma, US researchers have found.

The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels which provide the brain's blood supply.

Plaque buildup is usually associated with conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and even obesity and smoking.

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However, chronic inflammation of the airways – a side effect of asthma – over time can also cause plaque buildup.

When plaques rupture it can trigger a heart attack or stroke.

The experts discovered that those who with 'persistent asthma', a form of the disease which flares up weekly or even daily, have the highest risk of developing heart conditions.

This is when compared with those who have 'intermittent asthma' which crops up once every few months.

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Lead study author, Professor Matthew C. Tattersall of University of Wisconsin in Madison, US said: “Many physicians and patients don’t realise that asthmatic airway inflammation may affect the arteries.

"So for people with persistent asthma, addressing risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be really helpful."

The peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analysed the health data over over 5,000 adults who were at risk of heart disease.

Participants had varying degrees of asthma while some had no signs of the disease.

They found that carotid plaque was present in 67 per cent of participants with persistent asthma and 50 per cent of those with intermittent asthma.

Meanwhile, half (50 per cent) of those those without asthma had carotid plaque present.

People with persistent asthma on average had double the amount of plaque as those with intermittent asthma and no asthma.

Prof Matthew added: "Participants who have persistent asthma had elevated levels of inflammation in their blood, even though their asthma was treated with medication, which highlights the inflammatory features of asthma.

"We know that higher levels of inflammation lead to negative effects on the cardiovascular system.”

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Meanwhile, a separate study found that sex can trigger asthma attacks.

Exercise is a well-known risk but scientists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said rumpy pumpy may be underestimated.

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