Posted on Aug 04, 2018, 6 p.m.
Subjects exposed to what is deemed to be low levels of air pollution falling within guidelines have been shown to have structural changes in the heart similar to that of remodeling seen in early stages of heart failure, as published in the journal Circulation.
Data for approximately 4,000 participants in the UK Biostudy were analyzed who had provided information of lifestyle, health history, and residential location who also had blood tested and underwent health scan which included MRI scans to measure heart size, weight, and function.
While the majority of subjects didn’t live near major cities, an association was observed between living near busy roads and exposure to nitrogen oxide or small air pollution particles and the development of larger heart ventricles, and structural changes that are seen in early stages of heart failure. Higher levels of exposure to pollutants had more significant structural changes; for every 10 additional μg per cubic meter of nitrogen oxide and every additional 1 μg per cubic meter of small air pollution particles increased the heart size by about 1%. Average annual exposure to small air pollution particles was 8 to 12 μg per m3, within guidelines of 25 μg per m3, and W.H.O guidelines are 10 ug per m3. Average annual exposure to nitrogen oxide was 10-50μg per m3, approaching and above government and W.H.O guidelines of of 40μg per m3.
The study was conducted to ensure that the general public be made aware of exposure and to ensure the public’s heart and circulatory health is key to discussions soon to take place ahead of government consultation on the Clean Air Strategy, as air pollution should be seen as a modifiable risk factor. Findings are worrying as heart remodeling was seen in individuals in areas deemed to be within legal limits, while there are no safe limits adopting W.H.O guidelines may be a crucial step in protecting the nations heart health, says Jeremy Pearson of The British Heart Foundation. Future studies will include data from subjects living within inner cities using more in depth measurements of heart function, with expectations of findings being even more pronounced and clinically important.
Materials provided by Queen Mary University of London.
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Nay Aung, Mihir M. Sanghvi, Filip Zemrak, Aaron M. Lee, Jackie A. Cooper, Jose M. Paiva, Ross J. Thomson, Kenneth Fung, Mohammed Y. Khanji, Elena Lukaschuk, Valentina Carapella, Young Jin Kim, Patricia B. Munroe, Stefan K. Piechnik, Stefan Neubauer, Steffen E. Petersen. Association Between Ambient Air Pollution and Cardiac Morpho-Functional Phenotypes: Insights From the UK Biobank Population Imaging Study. Circulation, 2018; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.034856