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Why Some Asthma Patients Should Be Evaluated for Aneurysm Risk

BOSTON – Recent asthma activity significantly raises the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture and sudden death in patients 50 and older, according to recent research.

Authors of the study, published recently in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, urged evaluation of asthma patients, especially if they are male, for signs of the dangerous condition.

"Older patients, especially men, with a recent asthma diagnosis should be checked for signs of aortic aneurysm," urged lead author Guo-Ping Shi, DSc, biochemist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "In addition, patients with a diagnosed aneurysm who later develop asthma should also be monitored for changes in the size and strength of the aorta."

The research team earlier conducted an animal study, finding that mice with allergic asthma developed twice as large aortic aneurysms as the controls. Then, the study group examined thousands of medical records from two studies in Denmark – one with 15,942 abdominal aortic aneurysm patients age 50 and older and the other from a study of 18,749 men age 65 to 74 with and without abdominal aortic aneurysms – to evaluate trends in humans.

Results revealed that patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm who had diagnosed asthma within the past year had more than a 50% greater risk of ruptured aneurysms than those without asthma. Those diagnosed with asthma within the past six months, meanwhile, were twice as likely as non-asthmatics to experience aortic aneurysm rupture.

In addition, patients with recorded uses of anti-asthmatic medication within the last six months showed nearly 40% greater risk for ruptured aortic aneurysms than those not reporting such treatments. Specifically, those with recent inhaler medication use had about a 45% greater risk of having abdominal aortic aneurysm than others.

Study authors posited that inflammation could play a role in the connection, noting, “These findings document and furnish novel links between airway disease and AAA, two common diseases that share inflammatory aspects.”

"IgE is one of the main players," Shi added in an American Heart Association press release. "Our study suggests that asthmatic patients have higher levels of IgE, which can activate many cells, including inflammatory cells and vascular cells that promote aneurysm and cause aortic rupture."

llsa 2016