Asthma Predicts Cardiovascular Disease Events: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Matthew C. Tattersall, Mengye Guo, Claudia E. Korcarz, Adam D. Gepner, Joel D. Kaufman, Kiang J. Liu, R. Graham Barr, Kathleen M. Donohue, Robyn L. McClelland, Joseph A. Delaney, James H. Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objectives - To identify and characterize an association between persistent asthma and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Approach and Results - MESA is a longitudinal prospective study of an ethnically diverse cohort of individuals free of known CVD at its inception. The presence and severity of asthma were assessed in the MESA at examination 1. Persistent asthma was defined as asthmatics using controller medications (inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene inhibitors, and oral corticosteroids) and intermittent asthma as asthmatics not using controller medications. Participants were followed up for a mean (SD) of 9.1 (2.8) years for development of incident CVD (coronary death, myocardial infarction, angina, stroke, and CVD death). Multivariable Cox regression models were used to assess associations of asthma and CVD. The 6792 participants were 62.2 (SD, 10.2) years old: 47% men (28% black, 22% Hispanic, and 12% Chinese). Persistent asthmatics (n=156), compared with intermittent (n=511) and nonasthmatics (n=6125), respectively, had higher C-reactive protein (1.2 [1.2] versus 0.9 [1.2] versus 0.6 [1.2] mg/L) and fibrinogen (379 [88] versus 356 [80] versus 345 [73] mg/dL) levels. Persistent asthmatics had the lowest unadjusted CVD-free survival rate of 84.1%, 95% confidence interval (78.9%-90.3%) compared with intermittent asthmatics 91.1% (88.5%-93.8%) and nonasthmatics 90.2% (89.4%-91%). Persistent asthmatics had greater risk of CVD events than nonasthmatics (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.6 [1.01-2.5]; P=0.040]), even after adjustment for age, sex, race, CVD risk factors, and antihypertensive and lipid medication use. Conclusions - In this large multiethnic cohort, persistent asthmatics had a higher CVD event rate than nonasthmatics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1520-1525
Number of pages6
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 27 2015


  • asthma
  • atherosclerosis
  • epidemiology
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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