Air Pollution Hurts Young Hearts, Too
Urban Air Pollution Raises Levels of Inflammation Markers Even in Young Adults
Aug. 15, 2007 -- Living with air pollution may take its toll on young as
well as older hearts.
A new study shows exposure to urban air pollution prompted a rise in
biological markers, such as inflammation, among healthy young adults.
Previous studies have linked air pollution exposure to the development of
heart disease in older people or those already at risk for heart disease. But
researchers say this study is one of the first to suggest that air pollution
may also affect younger adults.
Air Pollution May Harm Young Hearts
In the study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and
Critical Care Medicine, researchers measured the effect of urban air
pollution on biological markers linked to heart disease risk in a group of
university students in Taiwan.
Researchers took blood samples and looked at heart rate with an
electrocardiogram every 30 days over three months in 2004 and 2005. They then
correlated the test results with air pollution measurements taken from an air
monitoring station on the students’ campus.
The results showed the students displayed increases in all of the markers
measured, including inflammation, oxidative stress, and coagulation (blood
clotting), with increased exposure to common air pollutants.
In particular, increased exposure from common air pollutants found in
automobile exhaust was linked to greater effects.
Researcher Chang-Chuan Chan, ScD, of National Taiwan University’s College of
Public Health, and colleagues say more studies are needed to determine exactly
how inhaling air pollutants affects heart disease risk.
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Joel Kaufman, MD, of the
University of Washington, says many questions remain to be answered, but “these
questions should by no means slow the important efforts to reduce exposures and
benefit global public health.”