Asthma can affect your heart. Poorly controlled asthma can do it. A severe asthma attack can do it. Abusing rescue medicine can do it. Overusing controller medicines can do it. Here’s what you can do to keep your heart safe despite your asthma diagnosis.
Asthma-related deaths & the heart
We don’t like to talk about it, but asthma can cause death. On average, asthma causes about 3,500 deaths per year in the United States. This comes to about 10 asthma-related deaths per day. Even one asthma-related death is too many. So, our goal is for these statistics to decline.
The usual suspected cause is poorly controlled asthma. However, there are some studies investigating asthma-related sudden death. That would be a severe asthma attack that causes your oxygen levels to rapidly decline. When this happens your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Tips for heart health with asthma
This is what we aim to prevent. So, here are 5 tips for keeping your heart healthy despite asthma.
- See your asthma doctor regularlyMost experts recommend seeing your doctor at least once a year, and more often if it is not controlled. You cannot get asthma medicine over the counter. There is a noble reason for this. The reason is that you should not treat asthma with medicine alone. You should work with a doctor to help you obtain good asthma control.
- Get to a place of good asthma controlThe emphasis of asthma treatment today is obtaining good asthma control, meaning experiencing asthma symptoms is rare and they are easier to reverse when they do occur. Good asthma control can be obtained by learning your triggers. You can then take steps to control your triggers. Asthma medicine can also help. A common strategy involves taking asthma controller medicine every day.
- Use your controller medicine exactly as prescribedIn order to get the benefit of asthma controller medicine, it must be taken every day. This is because some controller medicines take 2-3 weeks or more to get into your system and start working. This is the case with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).Another controller medicine are long-acting beta-agonists. These can open airways rapidly or within 15 minutes, depending on the LABA you take. Now, abuse of LABA medicines can affect your heart. This is why it is recommended that you do not use them more frequently than 1-2 times daily. It is also recommended that, if you use a LABA, that you also use an ICS. This combination is necessary to keep your airways open long-term. The most common combination asthma controller medicines are Advair, Symbicort, and Dulera.There are also other controller medicines your doctor may prescribe, such as Singulair. So, to get the best results, these medicines are usually used every day. They should not be used more than prescribed.Rescue medicines are meant to rapidly end asthma episodes. Use your rescue medicine exactly as prescribed. Abuse of rescue medicine has the potential to cause unwanted cardiac effects. Thankfully, modern rescue medicine has only a small effect on your heart. Still, it’s a good idea to use it exactly as prescribed to be on the safe side.
- Work with your doctor to create an asthma action planThese are plans that help you decide what actions to take when you experience symptoms. Should you use your rescue inhaler? Or, should you seek medical attention. These plans help you decide. Seek help when you need it.
- Do not abuse your medicineIf you find you need your rescue medicine more than prescribed, seek medical attention. This is where asthma action plans come in handy, and why they are so important. They help you decide when you need to seek help.An alternative to seeking help is treating yourself. Abuse of asthma medicine can affect your heart. Also, if your asthma gets worse that can also affect your heart. So, it’s best that you seek help when you need it.
Has asthma affected your heart?
Today, thanks to modern research, doctors are aware of the potential risk of death due to asthma. They understand that asthma, or medicines to treat it, can have an effect on the heart. Following these tips should help you keep your asthma heart healthy.