Tiny pollution particles produced by vehicle engines and industry are known to worsen heart disease and raise the risk of stroke, but a new study suggests they might also be planting the seeds for cardiovascular disease early on.
In healthy young adults with no signs of heart disease, researchers found that exposure to fine pollution particles known as PM 2.5 led to inflammation-causing changes in immune cells and a rise in debris in the bloodstream representing dead endothelial cells, the type that line blood vessel walls.
Fine particles in the air from industrial pollution and traffic have been tied to heart events, like stroke, before, but most focus has been on older people, said Dr. Joel Kaufman of the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle, who was not part of the new study.
“What we’re learning is these air pollution exposures are triggering biologically relevant pathways that we can measure in the blood,” Kaufman told Reuters Health.
“Blood vessel damage is an underlying characteristic of much cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease and can lead to serious, even life threatening acute disease events including heart attacks and strokes,” said lead author Dr. C. Arden Pope III of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
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