More than half of lung cancer patients also have high blood pressure, a study has claimed.
Lung cancer patients developed shortness of breath and respiratory distress – the same symptoms as patients with hypertension (high blood pressure).
The majority of lung cancer patients were suffering from inflammation in blood vessels, which may have caused high blood pressure, according to the scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Germany.
Just 20 per cent of lung cancer patients survive five years after their diagnosis, the researchers said.
The scientists compared the size of pulmonary arteries in about 500 lung cancer patients.
“We found thickening of the walls of the pulmonary artery in more than half the patients,” said lead author of the study, Rajkumar Savai.
“This is a clear indication that these patients also suffer from pulmonary hypertension.”
Inflammation in the arteries could be caused by immune cells, found near to the cancers’ location, the scientists said.
The immune cells released chemicals into the arteries, which subsequently triggered inflammation.
The findings meant new treatments for lung cancer patients could be investigated, said the Max Planck Institute’s Director of the Medical Unit.
He said: “Previously unknown abnormalities in blood vessels, triggered by inflammatory processes in lung tumours, could be the underlying cause of the symptoms observed in patients.
“New therapeutic approaches could start here.”
More than a quarter of all cancer deaths are from lung cancer, and the trend is rising, the researchers claimed.
High blood pressure puts extra strain on blood vessels, the heart and other organs.
Those most at risk of hypertension are those over-65, smokers, those that don’t do enough exercise, and the overweight.
It can lead to a number of deadly conditions, including heart disease, strokes, vascular dementia and heart attacks.
The best way to reduce blood pressure is to lose weight, exercise regularly, and to cut back on salt.