Originally published February 5 2009
Traffic Pollution Bad for the Heart
by Reuben Chow
(NaturalNews) A study recently conducted in Germany has found that people who lived near traffic had a higher chance of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
Details and Findings of Study
The study team, led by Dr Barbara Hoffman, who also heads the unit of environmental epidemiology at the University of Duisburg-Essen, used a technology called "electron-beam computed tomography" to measure the build-up of calcium in arteries. This gave a sense of the long-term effects on the heart of residential traffic exposure.
Using people who lived more than 200m (642 feet) away from major traffic as the reference point, the relative risks of developing coronary artery calcification for people living varying distances from heavy traffic were as follow:
* Within 50m (160 feet) of heavy traffic - 63% higher risk
* Between 51m and 100m (164 and 328 feet) - 34% higher risk
* Between 100m and 200m (328 and 642 feet) - 8% higher risk
"Living within 100 meters of a major road compared to people living further away amounts to a similar difference in coronary calcification as six months of aging," said Dr Hoffman. The study was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Link Between Polluted Air and Heart Health
The link between unclean air and poor heart health is nothing particularly new. "There's a very coherent and consistent body of data that links particulate air pollution with cardiovascular disease and premature death," said Dr. Ted Schettler, the science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, which is an environmental and public health advocacy group.
The American Heart Association, too, recognizes this link. In 2004, after reviewing available scientific evidence, a panel of experts had concluded that short-term exposure to increased levels of small particle pollutants in the air, including emissions from motor vehicles, "significantly contributes to increased acute cardiovascular mortality, particularly in certain at-risk subsets of the population". In addition, the panel said that extended exposure to such pollution shorted overall life expectancy "on the order of a few years".
One particular study which was published in the same journal last year and which involved researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. reported that microscopic particles in polluted air can negatively affect the ability of the heart in people with serious coronary artery disease to conduct electrical signals. Read more about that study here: http://www.naturalnews.com/024691.html.
What We Can Do
In the meantime, what can individuals do? Big cities are going to be polluted. As far as heart health is concerned, Dr Hoffman has advised for individuals to focus on other factors within our control, such as keeping blood pressure under control, maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels, exercising regularly and stopping smoking.
But unclean air does not only cause heart problems. And, with rapid industrialization and development worldwide, the air pollution problem looks like it is going to get worse.
This, really, is a decision for the individual to make. Many people have already packed their bags and moved to more pristine surroundings. Do you want to join them? Perhaps moving to a less polluted part of the city is a more realistic compromise. But someone has got to end up living near major roads and highways anyway - who are going to be these people?
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content...)
About the authorReuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.
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