Traffic Pollution Increases Risk of Heart Disease and Heart Attack
According to a German study presented at the EuroPRevent 2013 congress in Rome, long-term exposure to fine particle matter air pollution is associated with atherosclerosis, or thickening of the arteries.1 According to the featured article:2“The study was based on data from the German Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based cohort… with a mean age of 60 years…Results showed that in the 4,238 subjects included in the study, small particulate matter and proximity to major roads were both associated with an increasing level of aortic calcification—for every increase in particle volume up to 2.4 micrometers the degree of calcification increased by 20.7 percent and for every 100 meter proximity to heavy traffic by 10 percent.”Previous research has also identified traffic noise as a risk factor, and this latest study confirms that both small particulate matter and sound pollution are independently associated with subclinical atherosclerosis. According to Dr. Hagen Kälsch, who presented the research:“These two major types of traffic emissions help explain the observed associations between living close to high traffic and subclinical atherosclerosis… The considerable size of the associations underscores the importance of long-term exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise as risk factors for atherosclerosis.”Interestingly, both noise and fine particle matter are believed to increase your cardiovascular disease risk through similar biologic pathways, namely by causing an imbalance in your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Your ANS is intricately involved in regulating biological functions such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, clotting and viscosity.Another study by a French research team found that all the main traffic pollutants, with the exception of ozone, were strongly associated with an increased risk for heart attack. These pollutants include:
- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
- Particulate matter
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