Asthma may raise the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Abdominal aortic aneurysm is the weakening of the main blood vessel in the body. It can cause sudden death if it ruptures. The study uncovered that asthma patients had a greater risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Other notable risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm include smoking, high blood pressure, higher cholesterol, obesity, and smoking-related lung diseases.
Lead author Guo-Ping Shi said, “Older patients, especially men, with a recent asthma diagnosis should be checked for signs of aortic aneurysm. In addition, patients with a diagnosed aneurysm who later develop asthma should also be monitored for changes in the size and strength of the aorta.”
In previous studies conducted on mice, Shi and his team found a link between asthma and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Mice with asthma were twice as likely to develop abdominal aortic aneurysm, compared to control mice. To confirm their findings, the researchers explored medical records from two studies – one study included 15,942 patients, the other – 18,749.
The researchers found that patients diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm and asthma within the last year had over a 50 percent chance of a ruptured aneurysm, compared to those without asthma. Patients diagnosed with asthma within the last six months had double the risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Those who used anti-asthmatic medication in the last six months had a 40 percent greater risk of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, and patients who had recently used an inhaler had a 45 percent greater risk of aneurysm – compared to patients who are not on any anti-asthmatic drugs.
This association may be explained by the presence of a specific inflammation-related protein called IgE, or immunoglobulin E, produced by the body in response to allergens. Shi concluded, “IgE is one of the main players. Our study suggests that asthmatic patients have higher levels of IgE, which can activate many cells, including inflammatory cells and vascular cells that promote aneurysm and cause aortic rupture.”
Abdominal aortic aneurysm risk factors and symptoms
Aneurysms can develop slowly over a very long period of time, in some cases for years and without any symptoms. For some people, symptoms appear quickly, especially in cases where the aneurysm grows and expands rapidly, tears, or leaks blood.
Here are some possible symptoms of rupture:
- Pain in the back or abdomen
- Pain in the groin, buttocks, or legs
- Dizziness and/or fainting
- Clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
Men are in a higher risk category than women when it comes to abdominal aneurysm. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk for all types of aneurysms, including brain and abdominal. The longer you have smoked, the higher your risk is.
Additionally, people who have a condition known as atherosclerosis – which is characterized by the buildup of fat and other substances that can damage the lining of a blood vessel – are at increased risk of aneurysms. Family history also plays a role in one’s aneurism susceptibility.
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