Background: Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) events. Here, we assess arterial inflammation, using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging (FDG-PET/CT), in patients with bronchial asthma and low to intermediate Framingham risk scores (FRS).
Methods: A total of 102 patients underwent FDG-PET/CT imaging for clinical indications. Thirty-four patients (mean age 54.9 ± 16.1) with mild asthma and no known atherosclerotic disease were compared to 2 non-asthmatic groups. The first control group (n = 34) were matched by age, gender, and FRS. The second control group (n = 34) had clinical atherosclerosis and were matched by gender. Thereafter, arterial FDG uptake on PET images was determined, while blinded to patient identifiers.
Results: Target-to-background-ratio (TBR) in the aorta was higher in asthmatics vs non-asthmatic FRS-matched controls (1.96 ± 0.26 vs 1.76 ± 0.20; P < .001). The aortic TBR remained elevated in asthmatics vs non-asthmatic controls after adjusting traditional CV risk factors (P < .001). An inverse correlation was observed between FDG uptake and lung function, FEV1 (P = .02) and peak flow (P = .03).
Conclusions: Bronchial asthma is associated with increased arterial inflammation beyond that estimated by current risk stratification tools. Further studies are required to evaluate whether attenuation of systemic inflammation will decrease CV events.