Are you plagued by pesky fall allergies? You might be familiar with the runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes that come with seasonal allergies, but did you know it could have an effect on your heart?
If you’re prone to allergies then it may surprise you to know that allergic disorders have a connection to more serious heart health issues. Keep reading to find out if you could be at risk for high blood pressure and coronary disease and what you can do to protect your heart.
What Causes Fall Allergies?
During the months of August through November, you may find that your seasonal allergies take a turn for the worse. Ragweed thrives on the East Coast and in the Midwest but grows wild in most areas of the country. During the fall it blooms and releases pollen, causing many of us to be hit with bouts of stuffiness, burning eyes, and congestion.
Ragweed isn’t the only cause. Burning bush, pigweed, sagebrush, lamb’s-quarters, mugwort, and cocklebur are other common plants that trigger allergies in the fall. The severity of your allergies can also depend on the weather. For example, windy and warm days cause pollen counts to surge and pollen levels increase when cool nights meet warm days.
If you find that you feel sick often with a cough or head congestion, then it’s time to visit an allergist. This is key to determining exactly what is causing these symptoms.
Addressing your allergy symptoms is important to your quality of life. But there are even more severe effects that chronic allergies can have on your overall health. New research has shown that individuals with allergies or asthma who have suffered between the ages of 18 and 57 are at a higher risk of high blood pressure. The highest risk of high blood pressure was shown to be people with asthma.
Why Are They Connected?
Factors such as family history, lack of exercise, diabetes, smoking, and obesity can contribute to increasing your risk of heart disease. But why are allergies and asthma also connected?
Although previous studies found a potential correlation, the latest research has proven to be far more accurate and reliable. Scientists used data on over 10,000 people with at least one allergic disorder to test their hypothesis. These included those with respiratory, food, and/or skin allergies.
Not only did they find correlations to high blood pressure, but they also showed a higher risk for coronary heart disease. This was specifically noted for people between the ages of 39 and 57 who had allergies.
Coronary heart disease (CAD) can cause a heart attack in some people. It occurs when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This causes the arteries to narrow over time and can partially or completely block blood flow.
The connection between allergies, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease is still unclear. However, researchers are confident that the correlation between both has something to do with increased inflammation in the body.
While histamines are a natural way that your body combats threats by increasing blood flow to the area of attack, prolonged inflammation is known to lead to many chronic diseases. This includes diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
In addition, the antihistamines used in many allergy medications (and D, or pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter allergy medications) constrict blood flow. This is meant to counter the inflammatory response.
However, this also leads to narrowing blood vessels throughout the body, which can result in high blood pressure as well as an increased heart rate. Steroids prescribed for asthma attacks may also have a long-term negative effect on the cardiovascular system.
The combination of these and other factors such as poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, pollution, and other influences, can lead to a higher risk of heart issues.
What Does this Mean for You?
If you struggle with allergies or asthma and are concerned about your heart health, then there are many ways you can protect your heart now.
Lifestyle changes including healthy eating and increasing your physical activity can improve your overall heart health. You may need to avoid sugary and high-process foods which can increase inflammation in the body. Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol are also recommended.
In addition, it is highly recommended that you reach out to your doctor for a routine evaluation of blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Based on their findings, researchers recommend clinicians add a cardiovascular risk assessment for patients with asthma and allergies.
The key to your heart health is catching early signs of cardiovascular disease before you experience any serious symptoms. This allows you and your doctor to create an effective treatment and/or preventative plan to keep your heart healthy for years to come.
Check Your Heart’s Health Today
This new research is a great way to stay aware of potential risks associated with your heart. Thankfully you don’t have to wonder about your heart’s health. A simple check up can help put your mind at ease.
Schedule an appointment with one of our expert cardiologists today. Heart disease is often undetected and minor heart attacks go undiagnosed every day. A quick evaluation can prevent more serious heart problems in the future.
Don’t wait to take action toward better health this month. Let us help you gain peace of mind for you and your family by scheduling an appointment here.