Living Near Major Roads May Speed Atherosclerosis

High exposure to fine-particulate matter is linked to high degree of coronary artery calcification

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- People who live near heavily traveled roads are exposed to high amounts of pollution, which may accelerate the development and progression of atherosclerosis, researchers report in the July 31 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Barbara Hoffmann, M.P.H., of the University Hospital Essen in Essen Germany, and colleagues studied 4,494 adults aged 45 to 74, measured the distance between their residences and major roads, and estimated their exposure to fine-particulate matter.

Compared with subjects who lived more than 200 meters from major roadways, the researchers found that those who lived within 50 meters, 50-100 meters and 101-200 meters had odds ratios of 1.63, 1.34 and 1.08, respectively, for having a high degree of coronary artery calcification, which was defined as being above the age- and gender-specific 75th percentile. They also found that fine-particulate-matter exposure was associated with coronary artery calcification only in those who had stopped working full-time for at least five years.

"Considering the continuing rise in motorized vehicle use and the paramount role of coronary atherosclerosis in morbidity and mortality, these findings have high public health relevance and should be corroborated in prospective studies," the authors conclude.

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