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How Does Asthma Affect The Heart

What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers

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An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.

For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.

Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:

  • Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
  • Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
  • Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
  • Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
  • Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
  • Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
  • Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
  • Strong chemicals or smells.

With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.

How Does Asthma Affect The Body

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes your airways in the lungs to become narrow, resulting in inflammation and difficulty breathing. It also causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, breathlessness, and chest tightness. Sometimes, it can even be life-threatening. There is no cure for asthma you can only try to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and alleviate the symptoms.

Higher Lvm With History Of Asthma

For the new study, senior author Dr. Lu Qi, of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center in New Orleans, LA, and colleagues assessed the health data of 1,118 adults who were part of the Bogalusa Heart Study.

All adults had completed questionnaires detailing their history of asthma from childhood. Subjects were followed up for around 10 years.

At two to four time points during follow-up, participants left ventricular mass that is, the size of the left ventricle was assessed using echocardiography. The researchers accounted for the body size of participants by indexing their LVM for height, providing them with a left ventricular mass index .

Compared with adults who did not have a history of asthma, those who did have a history of the respiratory condition were found to have a higher adjusted mean LVM, as well as a higher LVMI.

The link between asthma history and greater LVM and LVMI was stronger among participants who had higher systolic blood pressure, the team reports.

The findings remained after accounting for other key risk factors for CVD, including age, smoking status, heart rate, and use of blood pressure medication.

Our data suggest that 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, to lower CV risk.

Further studies are warranted to verify our findings in other cohorts, the team adds.

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When To See A Doctor

Whether you have been diagnosed with asthma or not, it is important that you get medical help for your chest tightness.

Consider going to an emergency room if:

  • The discomfort is severe.
  • You have associated chest pain, tachypnea , nausea, sweating, dizziness, or fainting.
  • The sensation is localized to a specific area of your chest.
  • Your chest tightness is associated with physical activity or progressively worsens.
  • You have a feeling of impending doom or that something is horribly wrong.
  • You experience mild chest tightness at the same time every day or when your asthma medicine is wearing off.
  • You only experience chest tightness along with your other asthma symptoms.
  • You started having occasional chest tightness when you had a change in your asthma medication.
  • Your chest tightness improves when you use your asthma rescue treatment, but is recurrent.

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Another factor: Children with the most severe cases of asthma and allergies are often treated with steroids. Asthma patients, for example, are often prescribed a drug that falls into the family of beta-agonists, which relax constricted airways and ease breathing. But while they relieve symptoms of asthma, Marshall said, they also can raise blood pressure.

This finding really underscores why we need safer and better long-term medications to treat these disorders, Silverberg said.

Experts said doctors and parents need to be more attuned to cardiovascular problems that crop up in children with asthma and allergies, including checking their cholesterol levels periodically. But they said not enough physicians are doing so.

It hasnt yet risen to the conscious level of providers that deal with this on a regular basis, Marshall said, and thats alarming.

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Signs You Actually Have Severe Asthma

Breathing is just one of those things you take for granted until it feels like every inhale or exhale is a struggle. Unfortunately, people with severe asthma have to deal with breathing issues way more often than anyone should, and it can be completely terrifying.

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the airways that extend from your nose and mouth to your lungs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When youre exposed to triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, exercise, and respiratory infections, these airways can narrow, restricting your airflow. This can then make the muscles surrounding your airways constrict, making it even harder to breathe, and cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal, further compounding the problem. All together, this can lead to asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing , and chest tightness or pain, according to the NHLBI.

Like most health conditions, asthma severity runs along a spectrum, Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Some people have cases where they experience minor symptoms here and there . Others can have asthma that is basically an ever-present problem and might result in scary asthma attacks, which is when symptoms ramp up in severity and can even become life-threatening.

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Characteristics And Quality Assessment

The characteristics of the studies that were included are summarized in . These studies were published between 2004 and 2015. Five studies were conducted in the USA, three were conducted in Europe and two were conducted in Taiwan. Four studies were retrospective cohort studies and six studies were prospective studies. The length of follow-up ranged from 4.5 to 27 years. The sample sizes of the cohorts ranged from 1233 to 151 620 . The ascertainment of asthma varied among studies: eight studies were based on self-reported doctor diagnoses or inpatient admission for asthma, one used a respiratory questionnaire and one was from an epidemiology project. Among the ten studies, seven reported CVD events, six reported CHD events, four reported stroke events, and four reported all-cause deaths. All studies were adjusted for age with the exception of one study. Some studies identified and adjusted for conventional risk factors, including race/centre,,, education,,, body mass index,,, smoking habits,,,, alcohol consumption,,, blood pressure levels,, cholesterol levels,,,, and diagnosis of diabetes.,,,, Four studies reported that the risk of CVD was different in male and female asthmatic individuals.,,, With the use of the NOS, ten studies,,, were classified as high quality as they satisfied more than six NOS criteria. The NOS checklists are listed in .

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What Is An Asthma Action Plan

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.

Asthma History Linked To Risk Factor For Heart Failure

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A new study has become the first to uncover a link between a history of asthma and an increased likelihood of left ventricular hypertrophy, a risk factor for heart failure.

It is estimated that around in the United States are living with asthma, and the number is on the rise.

Previous studies have associated asthma with an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions, including heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

Now, the new research recently published in the journal JACC: Heart Failure suggests that people who have a history of asthma may also be at greater risk of left ventricular hypertrophy .

LVH is a condition characterized by the thickening and enlargement of the left ventricle, which is the heart chamber responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body.

Many patients with LVH do not experience any signs or symptoms, particularly in the early stages. When symptoms do arise, they may include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, heart palpitations, and dizziness or fainting.

High blood pressure is the most common cause of LVH, though the condition may arise as a result of aortic valve stenosis and other conditions that put strain on the heart.

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Can Caffeine Be Harmful For People With Asthma

Caffeine should not be used in place of medications to treat worsening asthma symptoms. This can delay treatment and have serious consequences. High doses of caffeine can increase the side effects of theophylline.8 Avoid consuming large quantities of coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate if you are taking theophylline. Caffeine can make GERD worse, which may lead to more nighttime asthma symptoms.

Whats The Outlook For People With Cardiac Asthma

Cardiac asthma is a secondary condition caused by heart failure. The outlook for people with heart failure improves the sooner they receive proper treatment. However, it can vary widely between people.

The life expectancy of somebody with cardiac asthma depends on how far their heart failure has progressed, the underlying cause, and their overall health.

Mortality rates at 1 year and 5 years after heart failure diagnosis are about

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Listening To Lung Sounds

Both may present with shortness of breath and/or coughing. Upon listening to the lungs, a physician may hear wheezing on expiration. However, since heart failure may also consist of fluid in the lungs , a lung sound called coarse may be heard. This is a sound indicating fluid in the lungs. Asthma may also present with inspiratory wheezes.4-7

How Is Asthma Diagnosed

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Your health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:

  • Physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Lung function tests, including spirometry, to test how well your lungs work
  • Tests to measure how your airways react to specific exposures. During this test, you inhale different concentrations of allergens or medicines that may tighten the muscles in your airways. Spirometry is done before and after the test.
  • Peak expiratory flow tests to measure how fast you can blow air out using maximum effort
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide tests to measure levels of nitric oxide in your breath when you breathe out. High levels of nitric oxide may mean that your lungs are inflamed.
  • Allergy skin or blood tests, if you have a history of allergies. These tests check which allergens cause a reaction from your immune system.

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Face Your Asthma Anxieties

If youre fighting fears about getting out of breath or having an asthma attack, theres lots you can do.

  • Exercise with a friend give them a copy of your asthma action plan and talk them through what to do if symptoms come on
  • Start slowly and build up, staying in your comfort zone. Remember, every little bit of movement counts, even if thats just walking more briskly
  • A course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may also could help talk to your GP.

It did take a long time to get over my anxieties and fear of constantly feeling tight-chested and unable to participate. Set yourself small achievable goals perhaps meet with a friend for a walk then build up slowly. Asthma UK Readers Panel member

Ascertainment Of Incident Events

The incidence of CHD and stroke was ascertained through 2000 by various ongoing surveillance methods and standardised criteria that have been previously described. The incidence of CHD for this report was defined as a definite or probable hospital admission for myocardial infarction , definite fatal CHD, coronary revascularisation procedure, or silent MI by electrocardiogram. Stroke was defined by rapid onset of a focal neurological deficit lasting 24 hours or until death, in the absence of a non-stroke cause. A nurse abstracted medical records of potential stroke cases for symptoms, signs, and neuroimaging results. Cases were then classified by a computer algorithm and by a physician as no stroke or as a definite or probable subarachnoid haemorrhage, intracerebral haemorrhage, thrombotic brain infarction, or embolic brain infarction. Differences in classifications were adjudicated by a second physician. Definite stroke required neuroimaging, necroscopic, surgical, or spinal fluid evidence of stroke. End points were classified blind to asthma diagnosis.

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Higher Risk Not Limited To Respiratory Conditions

Sure enough, Dr. Juhns research showed that children and adults with asthma have a much higher risk of developing shingles compared to patients who do not have asthma. These findings were replicated by other research groups. Similarly, adult asthma patients have a higher risk of developing community-acquired E. coli blood infection, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack and diabetes. Children with asthma have higher risks of developing celiac disease and appendicitis compared to those without asthma.

Physical Symptoms Of Asthma

How Asthma Affects Your Lungs and Your Life

Asthma symptoms and severity vary substantially from person to person. Most people with asthma do not have symptoms constantly. Bothersome asthma symptoms can mean that asthma is not controlled sufficiently or that an acute asthma episode may be starting. Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Awakening in the night from coughing or wheezing

If you do not have asthma, you can help yourself imagine what it feels like to have an asthma episode:

  • Run in place for a minute or two, until you can feel your heart start to beat fast. Take a plastic drinking straw and put it in your mouth. Hold your nose closed and continue to breathe through the straw. OR
  • Take a deep breath in and hold it a moment. Now let out about a tenth of the air in your lungs. Breathe back in. Breathe out that same small amount of air. Breathe back in. Repeat until you can’t stand it anymore.
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    General Precautions For People With Respiratory Conditions

    General tips for those with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis include the following:

    • Take your medication as prescribed and manage your symptoms as well as you can.
    • Get the flu shot. If you have flu symptoms call your doctor. There are treatments for the flu. However, a flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19.
    • Get the pneumococcal vaccine if recommended by your provider. This will also not protect you against COVID-19, though.
    • If you smoke, theres never been a better time to stop. Smoking will increase your risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

    How Does Asthma Affect The Specific Groups Of People

    1. Children

    Children may not be able to tell that their breathing is worsening, and the coughing or wheezing are not always the first signs of distress. How does asthma affect the body of a child? Here are some indications of an asthmatic attack in children:

    • Fast breathing
    • Slouching

    2. Elderly

    Asthma can cause severe complications in the elderly. While a younger adult may only experience wheezing and coughing, symptoms may become severe as one gets older. Older people may have severe breathlessness and weakened body immunity. They may become more susceptible to infection, as well as anxiety or depression. With chronic asthma attacks, conditions such as bronchitis and other respiratory and cardiac problems may develop.

    3. Pregnant Women

    How does asthma affect the body of a mom-to-be? Pregnant women have an increased risk of complications when they have asthma attacks. These include vaginal hemorrhage, premature labor, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and stillbirth. Asthma attacks during pregnancy increase the production of acid in the blood, which may reduce oxygen supply both to the mother and the baby.

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    Lab Tests And Procedures

    Based on initial findings, your doctor will order tests to investigate further. If asthma is suspected, you would generally be referred to a pulmonologist or pulmonology lab for evaluation with in-office spirometry and other pulmonary function tests .

    If heart failure is suspected, a number of common lab tests, imaging studies, and procedures can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. You may get these initially or only after pulmonary tests have been conducted and reviewed:

    • B-type natriuretic peptide , a blood test that detects a hormone released with increased ventricular pressure
    • Echocardiogram, a non-invasive ultrasound test that can visualize how well your heart is pumping
    • Electrocardiogram , used to measure the electrical impulses during heartbeats to detect irregularities
    • Stress testing, in which your ECG and respiratory function are evaluated while exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike
    • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging , a detailed imaging study of the heart using powerful magnetic and radio waves
    • Computed tomography angiography, a 3-D imaging study using a series of X-rays to map the structure of the heart
    • Chest X-ray, generally less useful in diagnosis but that may help exclude other causes of heart dysfunction

    It is important to seek a full and proper diagnosis of your condition whether heart failure or asthma is suspected.

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