The title of an article that came across my desk today stated: Children with common allergies have twice the heart disease risk. Well that caught my attention! Especially since my son has (well managed) allergies and we treat a lot of folks with allergies at the clinic. Of course I wanted to know whether they had discovered any particular new connection between the two conditions that could explain the increased risk, and that could also be a mechanism that we would want to address.
As I read through the article, however, it became obvious that the authors had missed the biggest connection of all, even though it was staring them in the face. But in fact, unless you’re thinking like a functional medicine practitioner, it’s far too easy to miss the obvious.
And what was that connection? INFLAMMATION.
To their credit, the authors had noted that high levels of inflammation are present in children that have asthma and hay fever, and that this may well be the mechanism behind the increased cardiovascular risk. However, the implication of the authors’ statements was that we need to separately address the increased cardiovascular risk in children with asthma and hay fever.
With a functional medicine practitioner hat on, we would see the connection differently: that inflammation is an underlying driver of both conditions (and actually a host of other conditions) and that the clinician’s role must be to identify those sources of inflammation and address them at the root. Two seemingly separate problems, but a common underlying set of drivers. So when you approach a health problem from a functional medicine perspective, the issue of comorbidities (those simultaneous health conditions) is also addressed.
…And I am confident that through functional medicine we are lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease in our allergic patient populations, as well as in my son.