Lung Trouble May Raise Heart Risk

Inflammation may be factor linking the two problems, study suggests

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FRIDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- Having reduced lung capacity may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, a group of New Zealand researchers report.

For their study, published online ahead of print in Thorax, at team at the University of Otago in Dunedin took measurements of lung capacity and inflammation in 1,000 adults aged 26 to 32.

They measured inflammation by looking at blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. Inflammation is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Higher levels of CRP were found in people with smaller lung capacities. The association between higher CRP levels and lower lung function was not related to smoking, lung disease or obesity.

It has been suggested that older people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, since inflammation is a risk factor for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). But since the participants in this study were as young as 26, the study authors said the participants were very unlikely to have developed either clinically significant atherosclerosis or COPD.

The authors said their findings suggest the association between poor lung function and cardiovascular disease may be somehow mediated by inflammation.

The next step is to establish whether inflammation leads to reduced lung function, or vice versa, they said.

More information

The National Lung Health Education Program has more about lung health.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist journals, news release, June 28, 2007


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