Treat Your Asthma: Protect Your Heart

Asthma is chronic and easily aggravated by stress, dust and chemical-ridden environments. So it’s important to take your prescribed asthma medication and see your doctor regularly.

This month, a research team from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health revealed the results of a new study showing that controlling asthma symptoms is also an important way to reduce your chances of having a heart attack.

The news is important for black women who are much more likely to develop asthma and have the highest asthma mortality rate in the country.

The research team analyzed 543 people who had experienced heart attacks. After controlling for several factors such as hypertension, diabetes and smoking, they found that people with asthma had a 70 percent higher risk of heart attack.

Preventing and Controlling Asthma

The cause of asthma has not been identified, but potential triggers include obesity, heredity, allergens, urban environments, emotional distress and hormonal fluctuations in women. Many people think asthma develops only in childhood, but the disease can occur at any stage of life.

Whether you already have asthma, or you want to lower your risk, these tips may help you prevent it or avoid having an attack:

▪ Live smoke free. Don’t smoke. Also avoid secondhand and incense smoke. When booking a hotel or visiting a public space, stay in a smoke-free room or dining area. Never allow anyone to smoke in your home. Smoke leaves a film on surfaces that can irritate your lungs long after the smoker is gone.

▪ Fight colds and flu. Do your best to avoid colds and flu. Get a flu shot, get plenty of rest and stick with a healthy, vitamin-C rich diet. Keep your hands off public surfaces (like doorknobs) and off your face.

▪ Allergy-proof your home. Get rid of feather and down pillows and comforters; choose wood floors over carpet; and let someone else vacuum while you take a walk. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s advice on reducing dust mites in the home.

▪ Reduce your weight. If you are overweight or obese (ask your doctor to get an accurate assessment), your weight can make asthma more severe. In some cases, it can cause asthma to develop. So it’s worth it to slim down.

▪ Find your triggers. People respond differently to asthma triggers, but for many women, a big one is fragrance. You may not notice it, but your favorite perfume or scented lotion may set off an attack. Keep careful track of your symptoms and when they occur, so that you can remove triggers from your environment.

Managing asthma does not have to be a mystery. Fine-tuning your environment and sticking with your treatment plan can keep you healthy.


Actress/singer Jennifer Hudson (Getty Images)

Actress/singer Jennifer Hudson (Getty Images)

Weight Loss Pills May Do More Harm than Good

Jennifer Hudson, singer and famous Weight Watcher’s (WW) pitchwoman, shocked millions last week when she told Oprah that she dropped 80 pounds using pills (Garcinia Excel and green coffee bean extract) not WW’s diet and exercise. But before you rush to buy a “miracle cure,” consider this: New research shows that people who use pills to drop pounds are less likely to adopt the habits needed to protect heart and brain health — habits they’re more likely to form following a low-fat eating and exercise regimen. Bottom line: there’s no quick, healthy fix for losing weight.