Air pollution. It’s the thing you’ve been wary of for its negative effect on the environment and your health. Now a study has found that being exposed to fine particles from vehicle exhaust and industry can cause blood vessel damage and inflammation.
That air and industrial pollution have been tied to heart events, such as stroke, is not new. However, what the research team has found is that such air pollution exposure can trigger a relevant pathway biologically and this can be measured in the blood stream.
The study looked at a component of air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These are the tiny pieces of solid or liquid pollution emitted from motor vehicles, factories, power plants, fires and even smoking.
What they uncovered was that periodic exposure to fine particles was linked to several abnormal changes in the blood that indicate cardiovascular disease.
The earlier you are exposed to air pollution the greater the risk to cell injury and death, inhibited blood vessel growth, and blood vessel inflammation.
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The study’s lead author, Dr C Arden Pope III, says, “There is substantial epidemiological evidence that long-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of these events and even of dying of cardiovascular disease.”
The study participants were deemed ‘healthy’ and did not have any pre-existing heart disease.
What this means is that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke extensively.
As with most studies there were some limitations including that the control was mostly over the timing of the blood draw, and that in the third year of the study no substantive pollution episode occurred.
What do you do to reduce your risk of heart disease? Are you concerned about the impact air pollution could be having on your health?