Living near busy roads linked to heart damage

Monitors in the operating room during heart valve replacement surgery

Monitors in the operating room during heart valve replacement surgery

A new research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which was published recently in the journal Circulation, claims that people who were exposed to the air pollution levels that were within the United Kingdom guidelines show changes in the structure of their hearts, which are quite similar to that seen during the early stages of heart failure. Following this research, the BHF are calling for this action to go further to reduce the health impacts of toxic air as quickly as possible.

They also looked at particulate matters, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets. The ventricles are important pumping chambers in the heart and, although these participants were healthy and had no symptoms, similar heart remodelling is seen in the early stages of heart failure, researchers said.

For every extra one microgram per cubic metre of PM2.5 - small particles of air pollution - and for every 10 extra micrograms per cubic metre of nitrogen dioxide, the heart enlarged by about 1%.

Average annual exposure to small air pollution particles was 8 to 12 μg per m3, within guidelines of 25 μg per m3, and W.H.O guidelines are 10 ug per m3. Their heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to measure the size, weight and function of hearts at fixed times.

While the exact locations where people lived were not included in the study, most were outside of the major United Kingdom cities and all of them were exposed to levels of PM2.5 air pollution well below current United Kingdom limits.

This fine particle pollution is particularly unsafe because it can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system. For every 1 extra μg per cubic meter of PM2.5 and for every 10 extra μg per cubic meter of nitrogen dioxide, the heart enlarges by approximately 1 percent.

"If you think the current levels of air pollution are safe, then in theory we shouldn't be able to detect any changes", Dr Aung added. This research by the British Heart Foundation could help scientists understand how and why air pollution leads to cahnges in the heart.

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"What is particularly worrying is that the levels of air pollution, particularly PM2.5, at which this study saw people with heart remodelling are not even deemed particularly high by the UK Government - this is why we are calling for the World Health Organization guidelines to be adopted". Findings are worrying as heart remodeling was seen in individuals in areas deemed to be within legal limits, while there are no safe limits adopting W.H.O guidelines may be a crucial step in protecting the nations heart health, says Jeremy Pearson of The British Heart Foundation.

One limitation of the study, published in the journal Circulation, is that it can not prove a causal link between air pollution and enlarged hearts.

According to Cascio, "near road environments" - houses not in urban cities but near a busy roads - can also have an effect on heart health and blood vessel structure and function.

According to a new study from the United Kingdom, where we live may change the structure of our hearts.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the United Kingdom, and requires collective action to tackle it".

Ahead of the Government's consultation on their draft Clean Air Strategy closing on 14 August 2018, we want to ensure the public's heart and circulatory health is at the centre of discussions.

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