Asthma and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are two separate diseases, which on the surface appear to be completely different. However, when viewed from a broader perspective, there is a common thread between these two distinct disease entities. That thread is the presence of chronic and persistent systemic inflammation. This chronic systemic inflammation ultimately results in poorly controlled asthma and ischemic cardiovascular disease.
In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in the worldwide incidence of both asthma and CVD. This increased incidence comes with an enormous social and economic burden for every country, including the U.S. We need to better understand the interplay between these two diseases, particularly since a large portion of CVD cannot be explained solely by risk factors, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
A recent analysis of data from a long-standing study, which included data from more than 35 years of follow-up, has concluded that asthma appears to be a risk factor for CVD. Of course, this conclusion is not without some limitations. Some analyses have shown that the increased risk of CVD associated with asthma is limited to some specific sub groups, such as smokers and women.
As stated before, and regardless how you slice it, asthma and CVD share a common disease problem, one of chronic systemic inflammation. This is not unlike other disease processes, e.g. COPD, which has a chronic systemic inflammatory component that helps to explain some long-term consequences of that disease.