By MARYGRACE TAYLOR NOVEMBER 17, 2014
If you’ve got asthma severe enough to need daily controller medication, you may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack, according to new findings presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.
For nine years, researchers followed nearly 7,000 adults, including 156 asthma patients who used daily controller meds and 511 who were asthmatic but not on controller meds. Compared to non-asthmatics, asthmatics who took controller meds were 60% more likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke, even after accounting for other heart disease risk factors like age, smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
It’s hard to say for sure what drives this increased risk, but both conditions share an inflammatory basis, says Matthew Tattersall, DO, study author and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Still, Tattersall and his team don’t yet know if people who take daily controller meds have more severe uncontrolled asthma that in turn causes more severe inflammation, or if the increased risk is related to the controller meds themselves or another factor altogether.
One thing they do know? If you have asthma so bad that you rely on controller meds to manage it, be extra vigilant about keeping your ticker in tiptop shape. “Focus on the things that we know can prevent heart disease,” Tattersall says. That means eating right, getting plenty of exercise, keeping stress under control, and—as if we even need to say it—don’t even think about smoking.