More exhaust fumes, more heart disease

February 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

As if we didn’t suspect this already: people living near to Los Angeles’ congested freeways suffer a faster hardening of their arteries – which can then lead to heart disease or strokes – than people living further away. The research, published this week, is said to be the first definitively linking vehicle exhaust emissions to the progression of heart disease, claims the LA Times.

In a joint project between the University of South California, and UC Berkeley, and linked to studies in Switzerland and Spain, researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the wall of the carotid artery of nearly 1500 people living within 100m of a freeway. Measurements were taken every six months for three years, and then correlated with particulate levels within the subjects’ homes. The progression in artery wall thickness was around twice as fast in the people who lived close to the freeway. Lifestyle factors such as relative poverty were taken into account.

Michael Jerrett of UC Berkeley told the LA Times, “For the first time, we have shown that air pollution contributes to the early formation of heart disease, known as atherosclerosis, which is connected to nearly half the deaths in Western societies.”

The full report can be read here.

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