Diesel pollution can cause heart damage, according to a new study.
“There is strong evidence that particulate matter emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death,” said lead author Nay Aung, a cardiologist and research fellow at Queen Mary University of London.
Heart damage is driven by an inflammatory response from inhaling particulate matter, Aung said. It starts with a localized inflammation of the lungs “followed by a more systemic inflammation affecting the whole body.”
The new study conducted cardiac magnetic resonance imaging on 255 participants to measure their heart‘s left ventricular volume and left ventricular ejection fraction. The particulate exposure was calculated based on the participant’s home address.
“We found that as [particulate] exposure rises, the larger the heart gets and the worse it performs,” Aung said. “Both of these measures are associated with increased morbidity and mortality from heart disease.”
More educated participants were less likely to have heart damage, the study found.
“This could be due to a number of factors including better housing and workplace conditions, which reduce pollution exposure,” Aung said. It could also be because people with more education have healthier lifestyles, and better access to healthcare, he added.
Aung advised people to avoid places with heavy traffic.
“If you want to cycle into work and there is heavy traffic around that time then try to find a quieter route,” Aung said. “Walk on the part of the pavement furthest from cars to reduce the amount of pollution you breathe in.”
Source: European Society of Cardiology