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ATS: Air, Noise Pollution May Raise Cardiovascular Risk

Exposure to particulate matter, nighttime noise from traffic linked to subclinical atherosclerosis

TUESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term exposure to air pollution and high levels of nighttime noise caused by proximity to road traffic are independently linked with calcification of the thoracic aorta, a measure of subclinical atherosclerosis, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 17 to 22 in Philadelphia.

Barbara Hoffmann, M.D., M.P.H., of the IUF Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, and colleagues used baseline data from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, an ongoing population study, to calculate long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and long-term exposure to traffic noise in 4,238 participants (mean age, 60 years; 50 percent male). Thoracic aortic calcification (TAC) was evaluated by computed tomography.

The researchers found that exposure to traffic-related air pollution correlated with a 19.9 percent increase in TAC burden per 2.4 µg/m³ PM2.5, and exposure to traffic noise pollution at night correlated with an 4.8 percent increase in TAC burden per 5 decibels, after controlling for other cardiovascular risk factors such as age, gender, education, employment status, smoking status and history, exposure to secondhand smoke, physical activity level, alcohol use, and body mass index.

"Many studies have looked at air pollution, while others have looked at noise pollution," Hoffmann said in a statement. "This study looked at both at the same time and found that each form of pollution was independently associated with subclinical atherosclerosis."

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