Asthma patients over age 50 appear to have an increased risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm and sudden death from aneurysm rupture, and the risk increases with recent asthma activity, researchers reported.

Use of bronchodilators or glucocorticoids for inhalation or as tablets was associated with a 45% higher risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in a cohort of men age 65 to 74.

“People with abdominal aortic aneurysm who were diagnosed with asthma within the past year had more than a 50 percent greater risk of ruptured aneurysms than those without asthma,” said Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Guo-Ping Shi, the study’s lead researcher.

The researchers pointed to immunoglobulin E or IgE, an inflammation-related protein, as the cause of the association. The body makes IgE as a response to substances that cause an allergic reaction. This protein stiffens the arteries which could result in an aneurysm.

The study was published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology on Feb. 11. Shi said that the recent study only highlighted the link between aneurysm, asthma and ruptured aneurysm. The findings do not prove that the respiratory condition causes either aneurysm or a rupture.

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