Tuesday February 25, 2020

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 Non-Fatal Heart Attack

Air pollution's tiny particles may trigger heart attacks

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Heart attack pollution
Exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a non-fatal heart attack. Pixabay

Researchers have found that even a few hours’ exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a non-fatal heart attack.

Myocardial infarction is a major form of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Ultrafine particles (UFP) are 100 nanometres or smaller in size. In urban areas, automobile emissions are the primary source of UFP.

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers investigated the effects of UFP exposure and heart attacks using the number of particles and the particle length and surface area concentrations at hourly intervals of exposure.

“This study confirms something that has long been suspected–air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure,” said the study’s first author Kai Chen, Assistant Professor at Yale University in the US.

Heart attack pollution
The researchers were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects. Pixabay

UFP constitute a health risk due to their small size, large surface areas per unit of mass, and their ability to penetrate the cells and get into the blood system, the study said.

The researchers were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects.

The research team examined data from a registry of all non-fatal MI cases in Augsburg, Germany.

The study looked at more than 5,898 non-fatal heart attack patients between 2005 and 2015.

The individual heart attacks were compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack and adjusted for a range of additional factors, such as the day of the week, long-term time trend and socio-economic status.

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“This represents an important step toward understanding the appropriate indicator of ultrafine particles exposure in determining the short-term health effects, as the effects of particle length and surface concentrations were stronger than the ones of particle number concentration and remained similar after adjustment for other air pollutants,” said Chen.

“Our future analyses will examine the combined hourly exposures to both air pollution and extreme temperature. We will also identify vulnerable subpopulations regarding pre-existing diseases and medication intake,” Chen added. (IANS)