Saturday November 23, 2019

People living in areas with Polluted Air Likely to develop High levels of Hypertension: Study

It is believed that air pollution leads to health problems by causing lung inflammation that spreads throughout the body, eventually leading to blood vessel and heart damage

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Air Pollution
A migrant worker steps out of his living quarters in an area next to a coal power plant in Beijing. VOA
  • A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years
  • beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure but by 2011, 6200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs
  • The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas

People who live in areas with polluted air increase their risk for developing hypertension, a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease. Known as high blood pressure, the hypertension study is the largest of its kind to establish the deadly link.

A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years.

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It is part of the long-term “Europe Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects,” known as ESCAPE, which focuses on health problems associated with pollution.

At the hypertension study, beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure or taking medicine to control it. By 2011, 6,200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs.

Most lived in urban areas where air pollution is highest.

Air pollution is measured in micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas.

Epidemiologist Barbara Hoffmann, who works for the Center for Health and Society at Heinrich-Heine University in Germany and led the study, says many of these cases of high blood pressure could be prevented.

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“So this is a very important result if you can see that something that you can actually change. I mean we can actually reduce air pollution, can have such an influence on such an important health outcome,” said Hoffman.

The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

Hoffmann says researchers will now study areas of where pollution is low, looking at the health effects of cleaner air.

“But this is of course important in terms of regulation because you would like to regulate the air pollution down to a level where you do not see any (health) effects anymore. So, therefore it is really important to look at areas of low exposure and see how far down can you go until you do not see any effects anymore,” said Hoffman.

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It is believed that air pollution leads to health problems by causing lung inflammation that spreads throughout the body, eventually leading to blood vessel and heart damage. (VOA)

Next Story

Exposure to Air Pollution May Trigger Alzheimer’s in Aged Women, Reveals Research

"Our hope is that by better understanding the underlying brain changes caused by air pollution, researchers will be able to develop interventions to help people with or at risk for cognitive decline," Petkus added

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Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

Women in their 70s and 80s who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution experienced greater declines in memory and more Alzheimer’s-like brain atrophy than their counterparts who breathed cleaner air, new research has revealed.

“This is the first study to really show, in a statistical model, that air pollution was associated with changes in people’s brains and that those changes were then connected with declines in-memory performance,” said study researcher Andrew Petkus, the Assistant Professor University of South California in the US.

Previous research has suggested that fine particle pollution exposure increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

What scientists haven’t known is whether PM2.5 alters brain structure and accelerates memory decline.

For the study, published in the journal Brain, researchers used data from 998 women, aged 73 to 87, who had up to two brain scans five years apart as part of the landmark Women’s Health Initiative launched in 1993 by the US National Institutes of Health and enrolled more than 160,000 women to address questions about heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Those brain scans were scored on the basis of their similarity to Alzheimer’s disease patterns by a machine learning tool that had been “trained” via brain scans of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also gathered information about where the 998 women lived, as well as environmental data from those locations to estimate their exposure to fine particle pollution.

When all that information was combined, researchers could see the association between higher pollution exposure, brain changes and memory problems — even after adjusting to taking into account differences in income, education, race, geographic region, cigarette smoking, and other factors.

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“This study provides another piece of the Alzheimer’s disease puzzle by identifying some of the brain changes linking air pollution and memory decline. Each research study gets us one step closer to solving the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic,” Petkus said.

“Our hope is that by better understanding the underlying brain changes caused by air pollution, researchers will be able to develop interventions to help people with or at risk for cognitive decline,” Petkus added. (IANS)