New research shows that individuals with a history of asthma from childhood are at a greater risk of developing shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting and eventually heart failure in adulthood. The researchers found that the common respiratory disease can lead to thickening in the left ventricle – one of the four chambers of the heart responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to tissues all over the body – in a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), causing the heart muscle to lose elasticity and eventually fail to pump. The study is the first to link asthma from childhood with the LVH, a cardiac condition. LVH is recognised as target-organ damage resulting from a chronic increase in pressure and volume overload, with an estimated prevalence of 14.9 per cent for men and 9.1 per cent for women in the general population. The prevalence of asthma has been growing during the past decade with an estimated current prevalence of 8.6 per cent in children and 7.4 per cent in adults. “Our results indicated that young adults with a history of asthma were at a significantly greater risk of increased left ventricular mass index, independent of other major heart disease risk factors,” said Lu Qi, Director of the Tulane University in Louisiana, US. The findings also showed that the association was more prominent in patients with pre-hypertension and hypertension. Emerging evidence from epidemiological studies has shown that asthma in adulthood is associated with an increased risk of premature death, coronary heart disease and stroke. “Our findings suggest aggressive lifestyle modifications or even pharmacological treatment may be applied to people with a history of asthma, especially those also affected by high blood pressure, in order to lower cardiovascular risk,” said Qi.