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Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure

Findings may explain link between breathing in dirty air and heart problems

THURSDAY, March 4, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term exposure to the air pollution particles caused by traffic has been linked to an increase in blood pressure, U.S. researchers say.

In the new report, researchers analyzed data from 939 participants in the Normative Aging Study, who were assessed every four years between 1995 and 2006. A computer model was used to estimate each participant's exposure to traffic air pollution particles during the entire study period and for the year preceding each four-year assessment.

Increased exposure to traffic pollution particles was associated with higher blood pressure, especially when the exposure occurred in the year preceding a four-year assessment (3.02 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure, 1.96 mm Hg increase in diastolic pressure, and 2.30 mm Hg increase in mean arterial pressure), the study authors reported in a news release from the American Heart Association.

This link between long-term exposure to traffic air pollution particles and higher blood pressure readings may help explain the association between traffic pollution and heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths reported in previous studies, study author Joel Schwartz, of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues noted in the news release.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference in San Francisco.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how you can lower your blood pressure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, March 4, 2010
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