Yikes! Who Knew This Could Cause Heart Failure, Too?
As heart disease marches on as the leading killer of Americans and those in western societies, researchers isolate yet another factor to be implicated in the advancement of this largely preventable disease.
Long before the World Health Organization revealed that 92% of the world’s population is breathing dangerously polluted air, a research team from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found a scary connection between air quality and heart health.
According to their findings, long term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, commonly known as “hardening of the arteries.”
Lead author of the study, Dr. Sara Adar, and her team published their findings in the journal PLOS Medicine, noting, “Our findings help us to understand how it is that exposures to air pollution may cause the increases in heart attacks and strokes observed by other studies.”
Air Pollution is a Modifiable Risk Factor for Vascular Disease Leading to Heart Attack and Stroke
The scientists followed 5,362 people between the ages of 45 and 84 from six U.S. metropolitan areas enrolled as part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution. None of the participants had a pre-existing history of heart disease at the outset of the study. The researchers were able to link estimated air pollution levels at each person’s house with two ultrasound measurements of blood vessel elasticity, separated by about three years.
The team found that reductions of fine particulate air pollution over time were linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness. Scientists determined higher concentrations of fine particulates were linked to a faster thickening of the inner two layers of the common carotid artery, an important blood vessel that provides blood to the head, neck, and brain. Further they found that reductions of fine particulates were linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness, an indicator of how much atherosclerosis is present in the arteries throughout the body.
Limit Exposure to Heavily Polluted Metropolitan Areas to Lower Risk of Vascular Diseases
After adjusting for confounding factors including smoking, researchers determined that carotid vessel thickness increased by 14 µm each year. The vessels of people exposed to higher levels of residential fine particulate air pollution, thickened significantly faster than others living in the same metropolitan area.
Poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and environmental and household pollutants all promote metabolic dysfunction that lead to ultimate arterial deterioration and an untimely death. Fortunately, health-minded individuals can make changes to prevent and even reverse heart disease.
Dr. Adar concluded, “Linking these findings with other results from the same population suggests that persons living in a more polluted part of town may have a 2 percent higher risk of stroke as compared to people in a less polluted part of the same metropolitan area.” In addition to dietary and physical activity lifestyle modifications, changing the amount of time exposed to air pollution particulates can impact risk for cardiovascular disease.
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource