News Flash > Cardiovascular Health


City Dwellers have Higher Blood Pressure

Reported May 18, 2010

(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 strokes.


"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.