Asthma May Raise Risk for Abdominal Aneurysm
Airway disease also linked to greater rupture risk in body's main artery, study suggests
By Steven Reinberg
THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- People 50 and older who have had recent asthma activity appear to be at an increased risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, a new study suggests.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weak spot in the body's main artery, the aorta, where it passes through the abdomen. That weak spot can rupture, causing massive bleeding. The researchers also found that people with recent asthma activity were more likely to have an aneurysm rupture compared to those without recent asthma activity.
"People with abdominal aortic aneurysm who were diagnosed with asthma within the past year had more than a 50 percent greater risk of ruptured aneurysms than those without asthma," said lead researcher Guo-Ping Shi, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Men diagnosed with asthma within the preceding six months were twice as likely to have an aortic aneurysm rupture, Shi said, adding that the risk was much lower among women.
The researchers also found that use of anti-asthmatic medication in the last six months was linked to a 45 percent raised risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Shi cautioned that the study only shows an association between asthma, aneurysm and rupture; it doesn't prove that asthma causes aneurysm or the rupture of an aneurysm.
The study was published online Feb. 11 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is more likely to occur in older men who have other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and emphysema, Shi said.
The aorta carries blood to the whole body. When it becomes weakened it can form a balloon-like bulge that may rupture, he said. Because an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture can be deadly, Shi recommended that men 50 and older with asthma be checked for aneurysms.
This can be done with a noninvasive ultrasound. And, if necessary, an aneurysm can be fixed with an operation, Shi said.
According to Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, "If you have asthma and doubts about whether you have an aneurysm, you can have an abdominal ultrasound. It's easy and noninvasive."