Exposure to Environmental Pollutants Raises Heart Risk
Researchers in Sweden have linked exposure to environmental toxins to an increased risk of atherosclerosis–or a hardening of the arteriesâ€”in the first study of its kind. The study supplements previous research that links exposure to pollutants like PCB, dioxin, and pesticides to cardiovascular problems.
Researchers studied 1,016 adults age 70 or older in the small town of Uppsala, Sweden. Participants were tested for a total of 23 toxins, some of which had been banned. Participantsâ€™ levels of exposure to pollutants were then compared to the health of their arteries.
A strong link was found between seven of the 23 environmental pollutants tested and plaque build-up in the carotid artery. When plaque accumulates on the inner walls of the coronary arteries, it may reduce blood flow to the heart and increase the risk of a heart attack.
The researchers recommended that potential environmental pollutants be investigated further to lower the risk of heart disease. They will continue to follow study participants to see whether exposure to the pollutants raises the risk of heart attack or stroke.
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