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Air pollution increases risk of death from heart disease more than respiratory disease

DALLAS, Dec. 16 Long-term exposure to air pollution poses a greater risk of death from heart disease than for death from respiratory ailments, researchers report in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"While we know that air pollution is not the dominant cause of atherosclerotic diseases, these results are consistent with findings that air pollution provokes inflammation, accelerates atherosclerosis, and alters cardiac function," said lead author C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

"We might be able to reduce the underlying processes of some cardiovascular disease just by reducing the exposure to air pollutants. And possibly, there may be ways to mitigate the impacts of air pollution, such as anti-inflammatory medications or other interventions."

The research, which used data on more than half a million people, also poses a theory on the mechanisms responsible for pollution-related heart deaths -- increased inflammation and nervous system changes that affect heart rhythm.

The researchers found that about 45 percent of all deaths in the study population were due to cardiovascular diseases -- including heart attacks, heart failure and cardiac arrest. Respiratory disease accounted for only 8.2 percent of the deaths.

Pope and his colleagues used risk factor and mortality data collected between 1982 and 1998 by the American Cancer Society as part of the Cancer Prevention Study II (ACS-CPSII). The ongoing study included participants, aged 30 or older, living in U.S. metropolitan areas with available air pollution data.

The ACS-CPSII data were matched with air pollution data from up to 156 cities, mostly gathered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The analyses focused on microscopic particles in the air that measured less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter called PM2.5, which is also the size range of particles in c
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
16-Dec-2003


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