Persistent asthma can take a toll on your lungs, and a new study shows it can also take a toll on your heart.
Relentless asthma seems to be tied to plaque formation in the carotid arteries, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Carotid arteries are the large arteries at the side of the neck responsible for carrying blood to the brain.
A study of more than 5,000 men and women showed that people with persistent asthma had nearly double the odds of having plaque buildup in the carotid arteries compared to people without asthma or less severe, intermittent asthma.
Persistent asthma was defined as having to control symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath with medication daily.
Researchers believe that multiple factors could contribute to the link between asthma and arterial plaque. The plaque could be a response to the inflammation caused by asthma. People with asthma have higher levels of inflammation than those without it.
The plaque buildup could also be related to the severity of the condition and how long a person has suffered from it.
They found that 67 percent of persistent asthma had plaque buildup in their carotid arteries, compared to about 50 percent of those with intermittent asthma or those without the condition.
If you’ve got persistent asthma, these findings mean it may be even more important to pay attention to other controllable cardiovascular risk factors.
Being mindful of things like diet, exercise, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight, and doing your best to ensure these things are good and under control, may help reduce the impact that persistent asthma may have on heart health.
The study was published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.