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Air Pollution Linked To Heart Attack, Stroke

British researchers have found inhaled nanoparticles enter the bloodstream through the lungs and build up in vessels over a period of time, which runs the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Air Pollution Linked To Heart Attack, Stroke

It is long known that air pollution causes serious health risks and can trigger fatal heart attacks and strokes. But until now scientists were not sure how particles inhaled into the lungs go on to affect heart health. British researchers have found inhaled nanoparticles, especially those coming out of vehicles, enter the bloodstream through the lungs and build up in vessels over a period of time, which runs the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The new findings, published on Wednesday in the journal ACS Nano, build on previous evidence show the particles we breathe get into our blood and are carried to different parts of the body, including arteries, blood vessels and the heart.

Researchers said these nanoparticles tend to build up in damaged blood vessels of people who already suffer from coronary heart disease and make it worse.

“There is no doubt that air pollution is a killer, and this study brings us a step closer to solving the mystery of how air pollution damages our cardiovascular health,” said Jeremy Pearson, a professor and associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation charity that part-funded the study.

According to a Centre for Science and Environment report, more than 6 lakh people die in India each year due to outdoor air pollution.

"Air Pollution is linked not only to pulmonary but also heart disease. The small air pollutants (PM2.5 & PM0.1) can penetrate the lung and enter the blood stream. They cause an inflammatory reaction in the blood vessels promoting blockages seen in Coronary artery disease", said Dr Sameer Gupta.

"Studies have shown that compared to inhaling ambient air, inhaling polluted air can increased your blood pressure by 2-3 points. High blood pressure is further linked to various complications like heart disease, stroke and renal failure. For every 10mcg/m3 rise in PM10, the risk of cardiovascular death increases by almost 1%", he added.

(With inputs from Dr Sameer Gupta, Senior Cardiologist, MP Heart, New Delhi)
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