There have been a plethora of research confirming the adverse effect of ambient air pollution on a range of lung problems, notably asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The impact on human health has been mostly examined on populations that are either elderly or already with some heart problem. Moreover, people in areas that meet air quality standards are not much to worry about is the common notion. However, a recent research that looked at the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular risk from close quarters challenged this belief. Researchers in the U.K. concluded that healthy people when exposed to even low levels of traffic-related pollutants for several years witnessed adverse structural changes in the heart–enlarged heart chambers to be precise–leading to significant risks of heart failure. The study looked at the health impact for five years on 3,920 people inhabiting an area in the U.K. within a 25-mile radius characterized by a low level of pollution.
The findings of the study are in the journal Circulation by published in the American Heart Association on August 3, 2018.
Regular Exposure to Even Low Levels of Air Pollution may cause Chronic Changes in Heart
The respondents in the study were aged 40–69 and didn’t suffer with any heart disease at the beginning. After a period of five years, the MRI done on these people revealed changes in their heart chambers, though minimal, but could have severe outcomes if the condition is overlooked or left untreated, concluded the lead researcher of the study. The research found that particularly the most damaging effects were caused by air pollutants—nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter.
More Studies Needed to Estimate the Severity of Impact
Contrary to earlier studies, the current one contends that exposure to even low levels of air pollutants on regular basis don’t just execrates heart failure or cause increased mortality, but may lead to chronic health affect. The findings shed light on the need for better public health initiatives on constantly reducing ambient air pollution in developing and developed nations. However, the study is limited in scope as it didn’t estimate the extent of harm these changes may cause in affected people after five or ten years down the line.