BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 00:33 GMT
Asthmatics 'risk heart disease'
Man with inhaler
Asthmatics may be more vulnerable
Asthmatics may have a higher risk of heart disease, says a study, which names steroid treatments as a potential reason.

But a UK charity has urged sufferers to be cautious about its findings.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association's annual conference on cardiovascular disease prevention, and studied only non-smoking asthmatics.

It is most unlikely to be due to the treatments

Dr Martyn Partridge, National Asthma Campaign
Anyone with asthma had a third increased risk of developing heart disease.

However, asthmatics receiving treatment for the condition were 82% more likely to get heart disease.

Dr Carlos Iribarren, who led the research, said: "It has important public health implications because asthma affects about 6% of the general population.

"Asthmatic patients and their doctors should be particularly mindful, not only about managing asthma, but also about managing cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose."

Inflamed airways

Asthma is a disease involving inflammation of the airways, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Inflammation also plays a role in atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries - which can cause heart disease.

A total of 22,036 patients with an average age of 50 were studied, and factors such as gender, ethnicity, level of education, cholesterol levels and weight were taken into account.

Dr Iribarren plans future research into the role - if any - of steroid medication in heart disease.

However, Dr Martyn Partridge, of the National Asthma Campaign in the UK, was sceptical.

He said: "This study has yet to be published in full and consequently the reason for this apparent association between asthma and heart disease is unclear.

"At this stage it's impossible to say whether an increased risk of heart disease is due to asthma treatments or other factors.

"If the association is proven, other causes seem more likely, for example infections or effects of inflammation.

"It is most unlikely to be due to the treatments. Further research is clearly still needed."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

21 Feb 01 | Health
Asthma gene discovery brings hope
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories