SUNDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- People with asthma may have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study that looked at the relationship between asthma and four other inflammatory conditions.
The study, which looked at medical records from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, found higher rates of diabetes and heart illness among asthmatics than other people.
Researchers led by Dr. Young J. Juhn, of the department of pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, found that people with asthma were not at greater risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis, but Juhn said that was likely due to the small sample size. "The trend was in a positive direction for all four proinflammatory conditions," he said.
One expert said the results were unexpected because asthmatics have a different immune system profile from cardiac and diabetes patients.
"It was surprising because there are two broad categories (of immune profiles) that they're looking at here," explained Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.
One type of profile is more common to people with asthma, and the other more common to those with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and coronary heart disease, she said. Appleyard noted that, in theory, a person prone to asthma should not be prone to diabetes.
She believes that the study findings should be seen as preliminary and more research is needed to understand the relationship.
"It's important to look at how they (asthma, and diabetes or heart disease) interact or affect each other, both looking at possible causes and risk factors, and then specific treatment geared to that part of the immune system," Appleyard said.
In background materials for the study, lead author Juhn noted tha
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