Retail Clinicians Can Prevent Heart Disease in Children with Allergies

December 10th 2015
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor

Children with allergic disorders may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even at an early age.

Children with allergic disorders may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), even at an early age.

Although allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema are common in American children, there has been little evidence to indicate a possible link between these conditions and CVD. To investigate this potential risk factor, a new study published in theJournal of Allergy & Clinical Immunologyexamined data on 13,275 children, among whom asthma, hay fever, and eczema were present in 14%, 16.6%, and 12% of them, respectively.

After accounting for obesity, the research team found that allergic diseases—especially asthma and hay fever—nearly doubled a child’s likelihood of developing high blood pressure and cholesterol, putting them at risk of CVD at an alarmingly young age.

Further research is needed to establish the reasons for this elevated risk, but the study authors suggested that high CVD rates among children with allergies could be partially due to the frequent inflammation caused by conditions like asthma and hay fever. The researchers also noted that children with asthma are generally less physically active than their healthy peers—a factor that might contribute to higher blood pressure and cholesterol.

Retail clinicians have an important role to play in preventing CVD in children with allergic disease, according to lead study author Jonathan Silverberg, MD. Parents oftenbring their children to retail clinicsfor issues related to allergic diseases, giving nurse practitioners and physician assistants frequent opportunities to educate them on the cardiovascular risks associated with their children’s condition.

“Clinicians should recognize that allergic disease can have harmful effects on other aspects of children’s health,” Dr. Silverberg toldContemporary Clinic. “It is important to recognize these harmful effects in order to prevent them or treat them early.”

To minimize the risks of heart disease in children with allergic disorders, retail clinicians should encourage parents to help their children maintain a well-balanced diet and a less sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Silverberg explained. Additionally, clinicians should recommend that parents have their allergy-affected children frequently screened for high blood pressure and cholesterol, so that potential issues can be caught early and properly treated.

Dr. Silverberg also emphasized that clinicians should ensure that parents are fully informed about the preventative benefits of medication therapy, as well as the risks of forgoing treatment.

“Parents may be reluctant to have their children use different medications for allergic disease out of concern for side-effects,” he said. “It is important for parents to understand that if the allergic diseases is left unchecked, it may contribute to cardiovascular and other health risks later in life.”

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