(HealthDay News) – Lung function and obstructive airway diseases are strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of heart failure, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in the European Journal of Heart Failure.

Sunil K. Agarwal, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed data from participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities cohort (1987–1989). Lung volumes were assessed by standardized spirometry. Incident heart failure was determined up to 2005 in 13,660 eligible participants.

The researchers found that 10% of participants developed new-onset heart failure over an average follow-up of 14.9 years. For men and women, race groups, and smoking status, the age- and height-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for heart failure increased monotonically over decreasing quartiles of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). After adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and height, the HRs of heart failure were 3.91 for white women, 3.03 for white men, 2.11 for black women, and 2.23 for black men, when comparing the lowest with the highest quartile of FEV1. Adjustment for systemic markers of inflammation attenuated the association but it still remained significant. The adjusted incidence of heart failure was higher in those with FEV1/forced vital capacity <70% vs. ≥70% (HR, 1.44 and 1.40 for men and women, respectively). Self-reported diagnoses of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but not for asthma, were consistently and positively associated with heart failure.

“Low FEV1 and an obstructive respiratory disease were strongly and independently associated with the risk of incident heart failure,” the authors write.

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