Nov 18, 2014 12:21 PM EST
The risk of getting a heart attack increases either in a person with active asthma or in someone who takes daily medication to control asthma, new studies found.
The first study involves 543 heart attack patients who were compared with 543 people who didn't have a heart attack.
After accounting for heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol, the researchers found that patients with active asthma had a 70 per cent higher risk of heart attack than those without asthma.
Though inactive asthma was not associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
Dr. Young Juhn, a pediatrics professor at the Mayo Clinic and lead researcher of the study said, "People with asthma should make an effort to optimally control their asthma symptoms, because proper asthma control not only improves asthma symptoms and quality of life but also reduces the risk of heart attack."
"People with asthma and their caregivers need to take heart attack symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort seriously since chest discomfort or pain can be mistaken as a symptom of asthma," Juhn said.
Another separate study found that people with asthma who take daily medications for it were 60 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared to those without asthma.
The research team followed almost 6,800 people for 10 years and looked at patterns in asthma medications and heart attack incidence.
Lead researcher Dr. Matthew Tattersall, assistant professor of medicine in the cardiology division at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health said, "Physicians should do all they can to control every other modifiable cardiovascular risk factor in patients with asthma."
Both studies will be presented within the week at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Chicago.
Researches presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said factors such as smoking and air pollution that increase the risk for asthma also increase the risk for heart attacks.
"Both heart attack and asthma can result from continued exposure to smoking and poisons in the air," he said. "It's like jogging behind a bus."
Earlier studies have shown that asthma increases the risk for both heart attack and stroke, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a cardiology professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"The way asthma increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes requires further study, but it may involve chronic inflammation, failure to recognize early heart disease in people with asthma or the bad effects of the medications used to treat asthma," he said.
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