(NaturalNews) As heart disease marches on as the leading killer of Americans and those in western societies, researchers isolate yet another factor to be implicated in the advancement of this largely preventable disease. Poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and environmental and household pollutants all promote metabolic dysfunction that lead to ultimate arterial deterioration and an untimely death. Fortunately, health-minded individuals can make changes to prevent and even reverse heart disease.
A research team from the University of Michigan School of Public Health has shown that long term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, commonly known as "hardening of the arteries". Lead author of the study, Dr. Sara Adar and her team have published their findings in the journal, PLOS Medicine. Dr. Adar noted "Our findings help us to understand how it is that exposures to air pollution may cause the increases in heart attacks and strokes observed by other studies."
The scientists followed 5,362 people between the ages of 45 and 84 from six U.S. metropolitan areas enrolled as part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution. None of the participants had a pre-existing history of heart disease at the outset of the study. The researchers were able to link estimated air pollution levels at each person's house with two ultrasound measurements of blood vessel elasticity, separated by about three years.
Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor for vascular disease leading to heart attack and stroke
The team found that reductions of fine particulate air pollution over time were linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness. Scientists determined higher concentrations of fine particulates were linked to a faster thickening of the inner two layers of the common carotid artery, an important blood vessel that provides blood to the head, neck, and brain. Further, they found that reductions of fine particulates were linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness, an indicator of how much atherosclerosis is present in the arteries throughout the body.
After adjusting for confounding factors including smoking, researchers determined that carotid vessel thickness increased by 14 µm each year. The vessels of people exposed to higher levels of residential fine particulate air pollution, thickened significantly faster than others living in the same metropolitan area.
Dr. Adar concluded "Linking these findings with other results from the same population suggests that persons living in a more polluted part of town may have a 2 percent higher risk of stroke as compared to people in a less polluted part of the same metropolitan area." In addition to dietary and physical activity lifestyle modifications, changing the amount of time exposed to air pollution particulates can impact risk for cardiovascular disease.
About the author: John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.