Asthma as kid, stiffer arteries as an adult?

April 10, 2018 by The American Heart Association

Having asthma as a child is associated with developing stiff arteries earlier in adulthood, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, sought to explore the link between asthma, a that makes breathing difficult, and stiff arteries, which is associated with and stroke.

"Abundant evidence has linked adulthood asthma with cardiovascular disease, but whether or not a history of asthma from childhood influences arterial stiffness was largely unknown," said the study's lead author Dr. Dianjianyi Sun, a postdoctoral research fellow and senior biostatistician at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

Researchers used a well-known non-invasive test to measure arterial stiffness in 1,746 young and middle-age adults living in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

After a median follow-up of 11 years, people with a history of not only were more likely to have stiff arteries, but they developed the condition earlier in life than those without asthma. That was particularly true among people who were overweight or had high blood pressure.

"Our study indicates that a history of asthma from childhood is associated with accelerated aortic stiffness in adults and potentially an increased risk of future heart disease," Sun said.

"It's a well-designed study and a call for earlier attention, for both doctors and ," said Dr. Stephen Archer, a cardiologist, researcher and the head of medicine at Queen's University in Canada.

"Patients should be proactive in recognizing that asthma is probably a modest but important risk factor for , and staying healthy is therefore that much more important," said Archer, who was not involved in the new study.

The test used, called pulse wave velocity, can play an important role in identifying who has stiff arteries and might need to be more careful about their heart health, he said.

"When we're young, our blood vessels are very elastic. They absorb energy when our heart beats and give it back to the bloodstream," Archer explained. "Just like other parts of your body like your joints or your back your blood vessels usually get stiffer when you're older, but some get stiff early on in life."

An estimated 24.6 million Americans had asthma in 2015, including 6.2 million children, according to the American Lung Association.

The study didn't investigate why asthma might cause vessels to stiffen earlier in life than normal, but it's a topic Sun said he'd like to explore in future studies. Archer speculates the cause might have to do with inflammation.

"It's increasingly clear that inflammation can drive major cardiac events, and there's biologic plausibility that the inflammatory nature of asthma is translating into premature vascular aging," Archer said.

He said that no matter what's causing the stiff arteries, the study underscores the idea that people with asthma should get their blood pressure checked regularly and follow recommendations for heart health, including not smoking, controlling cholesterol, losing excess weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

The study also serves as a reminder about prevention, said Archer, noting that the condition has been linked to air pollution.

"We are literally changing the function of our genes by what we're breathing," he said.

Explore further: Asthma differences in adults and children

Related Stories

Asthma differences in adults and children

March 22, 2018
As the winter cold season melts into seasonal spring allergies, many people may start to experience sneezing, wheezing and other breathing difficulties.

Childhood measles linked to increased risk of later lung disease

March 21, 2018
In a new Respirology study, having measles—a highly contagious respiratory infection—during early childhood was linked with an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in middle age, but only ...

Late-onset asthma linked to increased heart disease, stroke risk

August 24, 2016
People who develop asthma as adults (late onset asthma) may also be at greater risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access ...

Childhood asthma may lead to thickening of left ventricle in adulthood

June 26, 2017
Young adults with a history of asthma are at a greater risk of thickening of the left ventricle, which can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, and eventually lead to heart failure, according to research published ...

Infant lung function a predictor of adult asthma

January 30, 2017
A new study by The University of Western Australia has found that reduced lung function in infants is an accurate predictor of persistent asthma in young adults.

Maternal uncontrolled asthma ups risk of asthma in offspring

July 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Children whose mothers have uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing the disease at a young age, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical ...

Recommended for you

Research debunks 'myth' that strenuous exercise suppresses the immune system

April 20, 2018
New research overturns a myth that has persisted for nearly four decades - that competing in endurance sports, like this weekend's London Marathon, suppresses the body's immune system and makes competitors more susceptible ...

Immune diversity among the KhoeSan population

April 20, 2018
A new study of the KhoeSan of Southern Africa has improved the understanding of immune diversity among the oldest surviving indigenous population in the world.

Psoriasis treated with compound derived from immune cells

April 18, 2018
A compound derived from immune cells treats psoriasis in mice and holds promise for other autoimmune diseases, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Researchers uncover origin of virus-fighting plasma B cells

April 18, 2018
Plasma B cells, which move through the body releasing antibodies, are an important component of the body's fight against viral infections and other invaders. They are relatively rare, however, and increasing their ranks is ...

Your immune system holds the line against repeat invaders, thanks to this molecule

April 17, 2018
Memory T cells are a critical element of our immune system's historical archive. To prevent repeat infections, these cells retain a record of germs they've fought before.

New disease model to facilitate development of ALS and MS therapies

April 17, 2018
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a new disease model for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and MS that can be used to develop new immunotherapies. The model is described in a publication ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.