Even low air pollution is linked to serious changes in the heart

low level of air pollution, heart change

In a new UK study, researchers find that people exposed to air pollution levels well within UK guidelines have changes in the structure of the heart.

These heart changes are similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure.

Globally, coronary heart disease and stroke account for approximately six in ten (58%) deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

This research could help explain exactly how and why air pollution affects the heart.

In the study, the team studied data from around 4,000 participants in the UK Biobank study.

Volunteers provided a range of personal information, including their lifestyles, health record and details on where they have lived.

Participants also had blood tests and health scans. Heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to measure the size, weight and function of the participants’ hearts at fixed times.

The researchers found a clear association between those who lived near loud, busy roads, and were exposed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or PM2.5 (small particles of air pollution) and the development of larger right and left ventricles in the heart.

The ventricles are important pumping chambers in the heart.

Although these participants were healthy and had no symptoms, similar heart remodeling is seen in the early stages of heart failure.

In addition, higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart.

The WHO has said that there are no safe limits of PM2.5. The participants’ average exposure to NO2 was approaching and above the equal WHO and UK annual average guidelines.

The team was led from Queen Mary University of London by Professor Steffen Petersen. Dr. Nay Aung who led the data analysis from Queen Mary University of London.

The study was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is published in the journal Circulation.

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