High blood pressure is linked to air pollution and heavy traffic

High blood pressure is linked to air pollution and heavy traffic

Cars move along an S-shaped curved highwayShare on Pinterest
Experts say air pollution can affect people who live near highways. Amos Chappell/Stokes
  • A study found that traffic-related air pollution is associated with a significant increase in blood pressure among car occupants.
  • Researchers report that high blood pressure is on par with other cardiovascular risk factors such as lack of exercise or excessive salt intake.
  • Experts point out that cabin air filters and other filtration devices, including masks, can reduce exposure to dangerous air pollution particles..

People who wear masks while driving alone in their cars may not be so stupid after all.

the N95 masks It can also be used to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to filter out highway air pollution, which a new study says can cause a dangerous and sustained rise in blood pressure.

The study published in Annals of internal medicineReports indicate that riding in cars and breathing unfiltered air was associated with a 4.5 mmHg increase in blood pressure.

High blood pressure resulting from exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) has been found to peak within 60 minutes and last for up to 24 hours, according to researchers from the University of Washington.

said Dr. Joel Kaufman, the study’s corresponding editor and University of Washington professor, epidemiologist and environmental health expert Medical news today:

“Traffic-related air pollution, even at levels that are now considered low, appears to cause a significant increase in blood pressure. This is an effect of inhaling traffic-related particles because it was not due to the stress of being in a car, driving a car, or the noise; study design Able to calculate all of these things using fake versus real filtering, the participants were passengers, not drivers.

Dr. John Higgins, a sports cardiologist at McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston, who was not involved in the study, said. MNT The study results suggest that commuters who breathe polluted air on highways on a daily basis may experience dangerously high blood pressure throughout the work week and perhaps more so if they drive on weekends as well.

“It was astonishing how quickly this led to high blood pressure, and for so long,” Dr. Higgins said.

Our group previously showed that exposure to diesel exhaust increases blood pressure, Kaufman noted. The Road Traffic Study was designed to test these findings in a real-world setting by isolating the effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP).

TRAP may include ultrafine particles known as PM 2.5, black carbon, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other particulate matter.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previous studies have indicated that PM 2.5 particles are linked to a wide range of cardiovascular problems, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • asthma
  • Other breathing problems
  • Early death

“PM 2.5 particles can penetrate the lining of blood vessels and reach the circulatory system, affecting the heart and blood vessels, including atherosclerosis,” says Dr. Loren Wold, a researcher and professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who studies cardiovascular effects. blood from air pollution MNT. “This is what causes high blood pressure.”

In the pilot study, researchers drove 16 people ages 22 to 45 through traffic in Seattle, Washington, for three days.

For two days, unfiltered air was allowed to flow into the car. In the third, a HEPA filter is installed.

Study participants didn’t know whether the car had a HEPA filter — which can screen out dangerous PM 2.5 particles along with other pollutants — or an ineffective dummy filter.

Blood pressure was monitored for up to 24 hours before, during, and after driving.

Dr. Kaufman and his colleagues found that drives in vehicles with unfiltered TRAP filtration were associated with greater net increases in blood pressure than drives with in-vehicle HEPA filtration.

The researchers said the detected increase in blood pressure of 4.5 mmHg was significant. For every 20 mmHg in systolic pressure or 10 mmHg in diastolic pressure, death rate Of heart disease and stroke doubles.

Dr. Higgins said the increase in blood pressure associated with TRAP detected in the study was similar to that caused by poor diet, inactivity, or smoking.

“This is the magnitude of the effects from things like salt in the diet, which are known to increase blood pressure,” Dr. Kaufman said.

“High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The concern is partly about the individual, but also the impact on the entire population. The overall impact for the millions of people exposed to these exposures is probably many more cases of stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, and kidney disease that could otherwise be prevented).

Dr. Kaufman said the study also showed that the effects of air pollution on blood pressure could be reduced through effective filtration of cabin air.

“Maybe we need to think about high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in cars or cities that can do something about air pollution,” Dr. Higgins said.

However, most vehicles are not equipped with HEPA filters, and these passenger compartment air filters are not available for every make and model of vehicle.

“Regular filters don’t work well in a car, as you can tell when you can smell the exhaust of another car with a bad muffler on the road,” Dr. Higgins noted.

“It’s good practice to change the cabin air filter in your car just like you would the interior filter in your furnace,” about once a year, Dr. Wold said.

Dr. Wold added that while a HEPA cabin air filter would be ideal, a regular filter can get rid of some PM 2.5-sized particles, especially if the car’s climate control system is set to recirculate cabin air rather than bringing in air from outside the car. .

And yes, wearing an N95 mask while driving can also filter out PM 2.5 air pollution particles as well as prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

The study also highlights the potential health risks of TRAP exposure among people other than car drivers or passengers, such as those who live near highways, factories or airports, Dr. Kaufman said.

said Dr. Edo Paz, cardiologist and senior vice president of medical affairs at online cardiovascular health company Hello Heart MNT There is “some clinical evidence that is associated with air purification in indoor environments.” Low blood pressure Within two weeks.”

Dr. Wold noted that homeowners in communities with high TRAP levels can increase the efficiency of their furnaces’ HEPA filters by setting the system to circulate air every 15 minutes or so, rather than running the blower only when the heating or air conditioning is on. .

“Any smart thermostat should allow you to set your system to constantly cycle,” he said.

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