Air Pollution Linked to Changes in the Structure of the Heart

Air pollution, even within set guidelines, is linked to structural changes in the heart.

The heart is one of the five vital organs essential for survival. A new study released in the journal, Circulation, shows that air pollution can cause significant changes in the structure of the heart. According to the study, the structural changes are similar to that which are seen in early stages of heart failure.

This could explain why air pollution leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The study found exposure to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter is linked to an increase in size of the left and right ventricles. Dr. Nay Aung and the team noted that the structural change in the ventricles, the increased volume, is comparable to cardiac risk factors such as hypertension.

An article in The Guardian shares a quote by Dr. Aung:

“We know that people with heart failure or people who are developing heart failure, their heart will undergo changes, and one of the changes is they become larger,” said Aung. “When they become larger, that means that the heart is under stress, so the only way to accommodate this increased pressure and volume is to become larger. If you don’t treat or reverse that change, in the long run the heart may fail.”

What is even more worrisome is that the air pollution levels causing the structural changes to the heart were below the guidelines set by the UK government where the study took place. This means even “acceptable” levels of air pollution are dangerous to your health. Proving the importance of monitoring your air quality, and limiting exposure to air pollution when possible.