Pollution can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases

Journal of the American Heart Association reports that exposure to air pollution can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

“The increase in relative risk for heart disease due to air pollution for an individual is small compared with the impact of the established cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  However, this is a serious public health problem due to the enormous number of people affected and because exposure to air pollution occurs over an entire lifetime,” said Robert D. Brook, M.D., lead author of the statement and an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. 

American Heart Association states that it had not drawn firm conclusions about the long-term effects of chronic exposure to different pollutants on heart disease and stroke because of flaws in research design and methodology of many pollution studies.

The association’s experts have conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on air pollution and cardiovascular disease. This scientific statement focuses on particulate matter pollution and reaffirms the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke – called secondhand smoke – as an air pollutant. 

Particulate matter (PM), also known as particle pollution, is composed of solid and liquid particles within the air. They referenced several significant studies.“A recent report from the American Cancer Society study cohort found that long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution at levels that occur in North America increased the risk for cardiovascular mortality.

<>The risk increased by 12 percent for every 10-micrograms-per-1-cubic-meter-of-air elevation in fine particle concentration,” Brook said.He said long-term differences in fine particulate matter levels between North American cities can vary by as much as 30-40 ug/m3.“The largest portion of this increased mortality rate was accounted for by ischemic heart diseases (e.g., coronary attacks), however other causes were also increased, such as heart failure and fatal arrhythmias,” he said.

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