A new study from Northwestern Medicine shows that children with allergic disease, especially those with asthma and hay fever, have twice the rate of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and thus are at a higher risk of heart disease at an early age. The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Despite the fact that the study controlled for obesity, children with allergic disease were found to be at a higher risk for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Asthma, hay fever and eczema are fairly common among children in the U.S. These diseases are associated with chronic inflammation, impaired physical activity, sleep disturbance and significant morbidity but to date, very little is known about their association with cardiovascular risk factors.
During this study, the association was investigated by using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.13,275 children were included in the analysis out of which 14 percent had asthma, 12 percent had eczema and 16.6 percent had hay fever. All these three diseases were associated with higher rates of overweight or obesity.
"This study shows that cardiovascular risk starts far earlier in life than we ever realised," said lead study author Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, an associate professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine dermatologist. He highlighted the need for more aggressive screening of such children in order to ensure that their high blood pressure or high cholesterol is not missed. If detected earlier, there is a possibility of reducing their risk by modifying their lifestyle.
He also explained that the inflammation occurring in asthma and hay fever may be a contributing factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, children with profound asthma are generally more sedentary which may be a factor for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
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