Researchers have found an association between childhood asthma and a greater risk of thickening of the left ventricle in the heart, particularly in patients with prehypertension and hypertension. Thickening of the left ventricle in adulthood can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, and even heart failure.
The article, “A History of Asthma from Childhood and Left Ventricular Mass in Asymptomatic Young Adults,” published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC): Heart Failure, also shows there are currently about 8.6 percent of children and 7.4 percent of adults suffering from asthma, which is a significant increase from 10 years ago, researchers said.
In the study, Lu Qi, an MD, PhD, and director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center, and colleagues examined a total of 1,118 people who were asked to answer a questionnaire about their asthma history.
The follow-up, which lasted approximately 10 years, showed that young adults who had suffered from asthma as children had a higher adjusted mean left ventricular mass and left ventricular mass index than people who had no history of asthma.
This association was additionally found to be stronger in prehypertensive and hypertensive people, most likely due to the influence of a high systolic blood pressure in the left ventricle.
This is not the first time asthma has been linked to cardiovascular conditions. However, this was the first study to find an association between childhood asthma and left ventricular mass in adulthood.
“Our findings suggest aggressive lifestyle modifications or even pharmacological treatment may be applied to people with a history of asthma, especially those also affected by high blood pressure, in order to lower cardiovascular risk,” Qi said in a press release.
John S. Gottdiener, MD, author of an editorial comment accompanying the study, noted that the study leaves several unanswered questions. “All we know is the difference in left ventricular mass between those who did and did not have a diagnosis of asthma years before echocardiography was performed,” Gottdiener said.
“We look forward to further studies which will accurately determine the association of asthma with death, heart failure, myocardial infarction and stroke. Of particular value will be learning how severe and long the asthmatic exposure needs to be to pose significant risk,” Gottdiener added.