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Millions living with asthma at ‘increased risk of two silent killers’, scientists discover

MILLIONS on adults who have asthma have an increased risk of developing two often fatal conditions.

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

When plaques rupture it can triggering a heart attack or stroke

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

This is because the majority 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.

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

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

Those who have persistent asthma, a form of the disease which flares up weekly or even daily, have a higher risk of developing heart conditions than those with intermittent asthma, which crops up once every few months.

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 Heart, analysed the health data over over 5,000 adults some with and some without asthma with an average age of 61.

They found that carotid plaque was present in 67 per cent of participants with persistent asthma and 49 per cent of those with intermittent asthma.

Meanwhile, only 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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