Burning Issues

Wood Smoke and Asthma

"About 17 million Americans have Asthma. Smoke can trigger asthma. Get rid of wood burning stoves and fireplaces." Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, Parade Magazine, "When You Can't Breathe," March 25, 2001

Asthma is one disease. But it has two main underlying components. Together they cause narrowing of the airways, which can result in wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. With asthma, your airways may be inflamed even when you are not having symptoms.

Respiratory diseases are the most obvious of the widely acknowledged effects of wood smoke inhalation. Children's studies show that living in homes or communities where wood is burned causes increased respiratory symptoms, lower respiratory infection and decreased pulmonary function. (The leading cause of school absence in the United States, is respiratory illness.) Respiratory disease involves inflammation and sometimes infection, which a new study shows can cause heart disease. Good health is a circle of many many things going just right. Smoke breaks the circle. All burning creates smoke leading Michael Osborne of the EPA to say: "If I were someone who had a health problem like asthma, and I were looking for things to prevent aggravating (my) respiratory problems, candles and incense are two things I would seriously consider getting rid of."

Asthma may lead to heart disease. (Full Article:Heart Disease AP-NY-03-03-01 )

Kaiser Permanente Health Plan has released a research study in 2001, indicating that non-smoking Kaiser patients who had had asthma at any time in their lives were 32% more likely to be hospitalized with heart disease or to die of it during the follow up on the study. People actually being treated for asthma at the study's start had an even higher risk. 12% of them developed heart disease by the end of the study, compared with 7% of those without asthma - an increased risk of more than 70%. The length of the study was between 13 to 18 years. About 6 percent of Americans are thought to have asthma and the numbers of those stricken is increasing at an alarming rate.

"Asthma's inflammation results from an allergic reaction. Iribarren said his
works raises the possibility that it, too, might be bad for the heart,
possibly by subjecting the arteries to inflammation-related chemicals and
white cells that circulate throughout the body.

The latest study is ``another piece of the puzzle of how inflammation
influences the development of heart disease,'' said Dr. Sidney C. Smith Jr.,
research director of the heart association. ``It seems to be playing an
important role.''


Burning Issues update to this page: Nov.11,02

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