Posted on May 27, 2010, 6 a.m.
City dwellers are exposed to high levels of air pollution and are more likely to have higher blood pressure than people who live in the country, say researchers.
People who live in cities are exposed to higher levels of particulate air pollution and are more likely to have high blood pressure than people who live in less polluted areas, according to researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). Dr Barbara Hoffman M.D., M.P.H., head of the university's Unit of Environmental and Clinical Epidemiology, and colleagues analyzed the effects of air pollution exposure on blood pressure in nearly 5,000 individuals for a period of 3 years. Results showed that average arterial blood pressure rose by 1.7 mmHg for an increase of 2.4 µg/m³ in the exposure level to fine particulate matter (<2.5 ?m), which mostly originates from combustion sources in urban areas, such as traffic, heating, industry, and power plants. A similar association for coarser particulate matter <10 ?m, which contains more earth crust material and roadway pollution, was also observed. "Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are higher in people who live in more polluted areas, even if we take important factors that also influence blood pressure like age, gender, smoking, weight, etc. into account," said Dr. Hoffman. "This finding points out that air pollution does not only trigger life threatening events like heart attacks and strokes, but that it may also influence the underlying processes, which lead to chronic cardiovascular diseases. It is therefore necessary to further our attempts to prevent chronic exposure to high air pollution as much as possible."
Barbara Hofmann. Long-Term Urban Background Particulate Air Pollution Increases Arterial Blood Pressure. Paper presented at: American Thoracic Society Annual Conference; May 16, 2010; New Orleans.