Air pollution increases the risk of atherosclerosis, especially in males, the elderly and those with diabetes

In June 2019 researchers in the USA and China published the results of their study to assess whether air pollution and proximity to traffic are associated with the coronary artery calcium score, a key marker for atherosclerosis. A total of 8,867 individuals living in China, aged 25 to 92 years (54% male), and with suspected coronary heart disease were included in the study. At the start of the study each individual underwent assessment to determine their coronary calcium score and risk factors for coronary heart disease. In addition, annual exposure rates of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide and ozone were estimated at each individual’s residence. Results showed that after adjusting for coronary heart disease risk factors, exposure to fine particulate matter increased the coronary calcium score by 27% per 30 μg/m3 and nitrogen dioxide by 25% per 20 μg/m3. It was also seen that the association between fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and risk of atherosclerosis was greater among both male and elderly individuals and those with diabetes.

Wang M et al. Association of Estimated Long-term Exposure to Air Pollution and Traffic Proximity With a Marker for Coronary Atherosclerosis in a Nationwide Study in China. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jun 5;2(6):e196553.

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