Air pollution and your heart

Exposure to air pollution can worsen blood sugar levels, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease, particularly in people with diabetes.

This is according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“While air pollution is linked with relatively small changes in cardiometabolic risk factors, the continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern,” said the study’s senior author, Victor Novack, MD, PhD, of Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel. “Even small changes in glucose levels and glycemic control can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Over 70 000 people studied

The study examined the effects of air pollution exposure on 73 117 adults living in southern Israel, where levels of particulate matter can escalate due to its location in the global dust belt.

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The researchers used daily satellite data on how much sunlight was blocked by particles in the air and, along with other weather data, developed a model that allowed them to estimate daily air pollution exposure for each study participant using their address.

Researchers analysed the results of more than 600 000 blood samples taken from the study subjects. All of the study participants were known smokers or were diagnosed with diabetes, ischemic heart disease, hypertension or dyslipidemia, which occurs when the level of fats in the blood is too high or low.

The findings

The study found that participants tended to have higher blood sugar levels and a poorer cholesterol profile when they were exposed to higher average levels of air particulates in the preceding three months compared to those exposed to lower levels of air pollutants.

Particulate matter exposure was associated with increases in blood glucose, LDL cholesterol levels, and triglycerides, or fats in the blood. Exposure to particulate matter also was linked to lower levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

Source: The Endocrine Society via

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