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If you have persistent asthma, you might want to consider talking to your doctor about your risk for heart disease.
A recent study found that people with asthma could be 1.5 times more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those without asthma. Atrial fibrillation, also referred to as AFib, is a heart rhythm disorder that can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart failure.
The study followed 6,615 people in six areas of the United States for almost 13 years. At the start of the study, none of the participants had heart disease.
Researchers found that those with persistent asthma (defined as participants who required daily medication for their asthma) were more likely to develop AFib than study participants who did not have asthma.
Other studies have reached similar conclusions. For example, a study conducted in Norway also found that people with asthma had a 38 percent increased risk of AFib.
Researchers believe inflammation may play a role in the increased risk of AFib in asthma patients, as inflammation is a risk factor for both asthma and AFib. However, additional research is needed to better understand the role asthma plays in the risk for developing AFib, researchers concluded.
Though the studies found a link to an increased risk for AFib among those with asthma, they did not find that asthma directly caused AFib.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), at least 5.2 million Americans are living with AFib and more than 25 million Americans have asthma. People with AFib are five times more likely to suffer a stroke than those who do not have any heart disease.
While the studies do not show a direct cause and effect relationship between asthma and AFib, experts say asthma patients should discuss their risk factors for heart disease and ways to help prevent heart disease with their doctor.
Adopting a heart-healthy diet — including a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein such as fish or poultry, low-fat dairy and whole grains and limiting red meat, sugary treats and sweetened beverages — can help prevent heart disease.
The AHA also recommends exercising a minimum of 150 minutes — or five times per week for at least 30 minutes — to protect your heart health. If you are concerned about managing your asthma while you exercise, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise plan.
Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking and limiting stress can also help prevent heart disease and improve your overall health.
We’re committed to proactive cardiac care in our community. Learn more about our heart screenings and prevention.
To find out if you’re at risk for heart disease, take an online HeartAware assessment.
Learn more about heart and vascular services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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