Asthmatics ‘face increased risk of pulmonary embolism’

Continuing from where we left off a few days ago, we are again focusing on the lung condition asthma – of which an estimated 5.4 million in the UK alone suffer with according to the charity Asthma UK.

Research conducted by Scientists at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, suggests that having ‘severe’ asthma increases the risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot in the lungs – also known as a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition whereby one of the arteries in the lungs becomes blocked usually because of a blood clot and results in a prevention of blood reaching the lungs from the heart. There may be more than just the one clot and can differ in their size.

Symptoms can include a chest pain which feels like a sharp stabbing sensation that feels worse after inhalation, shortness of breath that can either slowly develop or strike suddenly, coughing (sometimes blood or mucus appear) and feeling faint or dizzy is another main sign of a pulmonary embolism.

They often happen when part or all of a blood clot moves from one of the deep veins in your legs, travelling into your lungs. A clot within one of these deep veins is known as ‘deep vein thrombosis’ (DVT), apparently occurring randomly but is usually following extended periods of inactivity, such as during a hospital stay with illness or after a long-haul flight.

Past studies have identified connections between chronic lung diseases and blood clots such as DVT. However this study, published online in the European Respiratory Journal, is the first of its kind to analyse if there are any associations with asthma.

The study involved 650 asthmatic participants from the Netherlands aged 18 to 88. They were compared against members of general population who did not have asthma. Investigators deduced that people with severe asthma were at an almost 9 times bigger risk of pulmonary embolism, whereas the study subjects found to have mild to moderate asthma had a 3.5-times elevated risk.

Study lead author Dr. Christof Majoor, of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, spoke out in a news release from the European Lung Foundation, saying: “This is the first time a link has been found between asthma and pulmonary embolism and we believe these results have important clinical implications. Our findings suggest that people with severe asthma have an increased risk of pulmonary embolism and doctors should increase their awareness of the possibility of this occurrence in order to help prevent this serious event.”

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