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UW to lead most comprehensive study of air pollution and cardiovascular disease

Researchers at the University of Washington will direct the largest study of its kind to explore the connection between air pollution and the No. 1 cause of death in the United States: cardiovascular disease.

"We're going to be looking at questions vital to our understanding of the health effects of air pollution and cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Joel Kaufman, principal investigator on the project and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine.

"There's a lot yet to be understood about what explains cardiovascular disease besides the known factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. There are still many unexplained variations in who gets heart disease, and when they get it. Some of the explanation is likely to come from studying environmental factors," Kaufman said. "We hope this study will really define the contribution of particulate air pollution to cardiovascular disease."

The $30 million grant will be funded over 10 years by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (please see companion news release at http://www.epa.gov/).

"We have a national strategy to dramatically improve America's air quality," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. "An important component of this strategy is to improve our understanding of the health risks from long-term exposure to particulate pollution, particularly as it relates to coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in our country."

This is the first major prospective cohort study designed to look at the chronic impacts of long-term exposure to air pollution on cardiovascular health. The study will look at both subclinical measures of atherosclerosis -- by ultrasound of the carotid arteries and CT scan of the coronary arteries -- as well as clinical cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. Exposure to a
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Contact: Walter Neary
wneary@u.washington.edu
206-685-1323
University of Washington
29-Jul-2004


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