Data from a new population study shows that people with asthma may be more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease.
The study’s authors suggest this may be caused by an imbalance between the asthmatic’s abundant T-helper 2 (Th2) immune environment, which is prone to allergic conditions, and a Th1 immune environment that gives way to inflammatory conditions.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., and the findings were presented at the 2011 annual conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in San Francisco. The researchers looked at two population groups – 2,392 asthmatics and 4,784 people without asthma – to determine incidence rates of diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
There was no increased risk among asthmatics for the latter two conditions.
But while the incidence rate of diabetes in those without asthma was 104 per 100,000 people, that grew to to 138.4 per 100,000 among those with asthma. In non-asthmatics, the incidence of heart disease was 134 per 100,000 which increased to 188.6 per 100,000 in asthmatics.
While this is significant, Dr. Young J. Juhn, the study’s lead author, explained at the AAAAI conference that the findings are preliminary. He said more research is required to determine the impact that asthma might have on the development of other chronic conditions.
Read the press release about the study here.