More Evidence That Air Pollution Raises Blood Pressure

Hypertension risk up for both short-term and long-term exposure

blood pressure cuff

WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- There is more evidence linking air pollution with increased risk of developing hypertension, according to a review published online May 31 in Hypertension.

Investigators analyzed 17 studies conducted through August 2015. The studies involved roughly 328,000 people in all, about 108,000 of whom had hypertension. Those investigations were conducted in Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Iran, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States. Short-term pollution exposure was defined as occurring over a number of days, and long-term exposure over a number of years.

Short-term exposure to pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and certain types of particulate matter appeared to increase risk for hypertension. Also, long-term exposure to nitrogen oxide and particulate matter was linked to greater risk, the researchers found.

"Our results demonstrated that air pollutants had both short-term and long-term effects on hypertension risks," study author Tao Liu, Ph.D., deputy director of the environmental health division in the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Public Health in Guangzhou, China, told HealthDay. In the short term, he noted, a few days of increased air pollution could lead to more emergency hospital visits due to temporary spikes in blood pressure. In the long term, those living with consistently high levels of air pollution could end up with chronically high blood pressure.

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