People who live in cities with higher levels of particle air pollution tend to have higher blood pressure, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, found long-term exposure to air pollution increased blood pressure. “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,” lead author Dr Barbara Hoffman was quoted as saying by ‘LiveScience’.
Previous work had shown that daily increases in air pollution can raise blood pressure, but little was known about the long-term effects. According to the study, high blood pressure increases the risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which leads to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers analysed the effects of exposure to pollution, ranging from auto exhaust to power plants, over three years (2000-03) in 5,000 people, and found the link with blood pressure remained even when other factors (such as age, gender, smoking and weight) were taken into account. The findings were presented last week at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society.