(Ivanhoe Newswire) — People who live in urban areas where air
pollution is high tend to have higher blood pressure than those who live in
less polluted areas.
Researchers from the University of Dusiburg-Essen in Germany used data from
the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based cohort study that focuses
on the development of heart disease, to analyze the effects of air pollution
on blood pressure between 2000 and 2003.
While earlier studies showed that acute increases in particulate air
pollution can raise blood pressure, little was known about medium- and
long-term exposure. "Our results show that living in areas with higher
levels of particle air pollution is associated with higher blood pressure,"
senior author Barbara Hoffman, M.D., M.P.H., head of the Unit of
Environmental and Clinical Epidemiology, University of Duisburg-Essen, was
quoted as saying.
The authors used a dispersion and chemistry transport model to estimate
long-term exposure to particulate pollution. For the blood pressure
measurement, they used an automated oscillometric device that detects the
blood's movement through the brachial artery and converts the movements into
a digital reading.
"Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are higher in people who live
in more polluted areas, even if we take important factors that also
influence blood pressure like age, gender, smoking, weight, etc. into
account. Blood pressure increases were stronger in women than in men,"
explained Dr. Hoffman.
High blood pressure increases the risk for atherosclerosis, a hardening of
the arteries, which leads to cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and
"Our results might explain why people who live in more polluted areas are at
a higher risk to suffer and die from these diseases," said Dr. Hoffman.
"This finding points out that air pollution does not only trigger life
threatening events like heart attacks and strokes, but that it may also
influence the underlying processes, which lead to chronic cardiovascular
diseases. It is therefore necessary to further our attempts to prevent
chronic exposure to high air pollution as much as possible."
SOURCE: Presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2010
International Conference, New Orleans, May 17, 2010.