Air pollution linked with Clogged Arteries

09:46, February 15, 2010      

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Air pollution from highways may accelerate thickening of artery walls, leading to cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

Artery wall thickening among people living within 100 meters of a Los Angeles highway progressed twice as quickly as those who lived further away, researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) said in a news release on Saturday.

To determine the link between clogged arteries and outdoor air quality, the researchers conducted five randomized controlled trials during the past decade. The trials involved linking the measured effects of outside area pollution to the progression of atherosclerosis in 1,483 participants in the Los Angeles area.

The findings support emerging evidence that high-traffic corridors are unhealthy residential locations, the researchers said in a news release on Saturday.

"The fact that we can detect progression of artherosclerosis in relation to ambient air pollution above and beyond other well-established risk factors indicates that environmental factors may play a larger role in the risk of cardiovascular disease than previously suspected," said Howard N. Hodis, director of the USC Artherosclerosis Research Unit.

"Until now, no study has ever investigated whether the slow but chronic process of the development of atherosclerosis would be effected by ambient air pollution," said study principal investigator Nino Kuenzil, vice director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Institute. Kuenzil began work on the study while as a faculty member at USC's Keck School of Medicine.

Artherosclerosis -- or stiffening and calcification of arteries -- is a condition that leads to heart attacks, stroke and related deaths. Animal studies conducted in recent years have shown that inhalation of particulate matter from traffic and other sources accelerates atherosclerosis, but there previously has been very little study on these effects on humans.

The study is the first to link outdoor air quality and progression of atherosclerosis in humans, according to the news release.

Source: Xinhua
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