Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Allergies and Heart Disease Make Unhealthy Partners
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Common allergies that bring on wheezing, sneezing and watery eyes could be next to join the list of factors linked to heart disease, suggests a large new study. However, the researchers stress that the findings do not prove that allergies actually cause heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. To look for ties between common allergic symptoms and heart disease, Dr. Jongoh Kim of Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues analyzed data on more than 8,600 adults aged 20 or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 1988 and 1994. They found that common allergies and heart disease frequently paired up. Eighteen percent of the adults reported wheezing and 46 percent suffered bouts of a stuffy nose or itchy and watery eyes -- a combination of allergic symptoms known as rhinoconjunctivitis. Heart disease was present in 6 percent of the adults overall. It was found in 13 percent of wheezing cases, 5 percent of rhinoconjunctivitis cases and 4 percent of people without any allergic symptoms. After adjusting for other related factors, such as age and asthma, there was a 2.6-fold increased risk of heart disease with wheezing and a 40 percent increased risk with rhinoconjunctivitis, compared to no allergies. The association was mainly seen in women younger than age of 50. Kim suggests that the intermittent inflammation that comes with allergies may lead to the thickening of artery walls, and eventually heart disease. It could also be that some people simply carry genes that are linked to the development of both allergies and heart disease, Kim added.