Air Pollution Shown to Increase Heart Disease Risk
by: Bruce Brightman - LifeSource Vitamins
Now we may be able to add air pollution to the list of factors of modern
life that increase heart disease risk.
For some time, we have known that air pollution can make asthma and other
lung diseases, like emphysema, worse. The annual medical cost of air
pollution's impact on these diseases is measured in the tens of millions of
What we are now discovering is that air pollution may also accelerate the
development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Several medical studies
have suggested a link between air pollution and heart disease in people who
are already at risk because of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood
pressure. However, the mechanism by which pollution increased the risk of
heart disease was unknown - until now.
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York
University School of Medicine and the University of Michigan explored the
effects of air pollution and diet on a specific strain of mouse. They
discovered that even small amounts of air pollution, in conjunction with a
high-fat diet, led to a significantly faster build-up of atherosclerotic
plaque in the arteries. The build-up of plaque is directly related to
increased risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
The researchers discovered that pollution, along with a high-fat diet, also
increased vasoconstriction (spasm of the arteries), decreasing blood flow
to the heart and brain. Inflammation also plays an important role in the
production of plaque, and air pollution amplified the inflammatory response
by 2.6 times.
Interestingly, neither a high-fat diet nor air pollution alone increased
inflammation or vasoconstriction. But even a small amount of air pollution,
when combined with a high-fat diet, resulted in significant plaque
These data indicate that air pollution has a far greater effect on health
than we first realized. Heart disease, a major cause of death and illness
in both men and women, may be aggravated by air pollution from industry and
There are ways to lower your risk of heart disease. Reducing the total
amount of fat in the diet is important. Increasing specific omega-3 fats
(docosahexanoic and eicosapentanoic fats) by eating more fish and fish oil,
and eating more fruits and vegetables also can help. Regular exercise and
weight loss are also beneficial for preventing diabetes and high blood
I also encourage activities to reduce pollution, including cleaner
industrial emission standards and more fuel efficient cars. For example, a
car made in France by the MIDI motor company operates on compressed air,
carries five passengers, runs for about 180 miles/tank of air, has a top
speed of about 60 mph and is "refueled" with a built-in air compressor. Why
can't we do that in the US?
The best way to treat heart disease is to prevent it. Clean air, it seems,
is a must.
Bruce Brightman – founder
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