Pollution and heart enlargement : low air pollution levels are linked

Even low air pollution levels are linked with serious changes in heart structure...

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Pollution and heart enlargement : low air pollution levels are linked

MED talks with Dr K K Aggarwal

Even low air pollution levels are linked with serious changes in heart structure

A study, led by Professor Steffen Petersen from Queen Mary University of London has shown that people exposed to air pollution levels well within UK guidelines have changes in the structure of the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure. The study part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published August 3, 2018 in the journal Circulation examined data from around 4,000 participants in the UK Biobank study, where healthy volunteers provided a range of personal information, including their lifestyles, health record and details on where they have lived. Participants also had blood tests and health scans, and heart MRI was used to measure the size, weight and function of the participants' hearts at fixed times.

There was a clear association between those who lived near loud, busy roads, and were exposed to NO2 or PM2.5 and the development of larger right and left pumping ventricles in the heart.  Similar heart remodelling is seen in the early stages of heart failure. For every 1 extra µg per cubic metre of PM2.5 and for every 10 extra µg per cubic metre of NO2, the heart enlarges by around 1%.

In the study, average annual exposures to PM2.5 were well within UK guidelines (25 µg/m3). The WHO guidelines for PM 2.5 are up to 10 µg/m3. The UK aim is to halve the number of people living in areas where PM2.5 levels exceed the WHO guidelines by 2025.

Safe limit of PM2.5 for India

The safe limit of PM2.5 for India is 60 µg/m3, but we face up to 1000 on multiple times in a year. We are having an epidemic of atrial fibrillation and diastolic dysfunction in the country, which I strongly believe is linked to pollution.

Air pollution : modifiable risk factor

Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor. But, how can we expect people to move homes to avoid air pollution? The Indian Government must act now to make all areas safe and protect the population from these harms.

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