Study finds years of exposure to air pollution, road traffic noise might increase heart failure risk

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Findings from a new study suggest that exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise over the course of several years may increase the risk of heart failure.

New Delhi: Findings from a new study suggest that exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise over the course of several years may increase the risk of heart failure.


The correlation appears to be even greater in people who are former smokers or those with high blood pressure. These findings of the research were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open-access journal of the American Heart Association. Eun-Hee Lim, PhD, said, “We found that long-term exposure to specific air pollutants and road traffic noise is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, especially in former smokers or people with high blood pressure. Therefore, preventive and educational measures are necessary.” lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Section of Environmental Health within the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark. “To reduce the impact of these risks, a broad public strategy such as emissions control measures should be implemented. Strategies such as smoking cessation and blood pressure control should be encouraged to help reduce individual exposure.”


This analysis examined the effect of long-term environmental exposure, particularly from air pollution and road traffic noise, on the development of heart failure in a group of female nurses in Denmark over a period of 15 to 20 years.


The researchers gathered data from a prospective study of more than 22,000 members of the all-female Danish Nurse Cohort Study. Study enrollment and women living in Denmark were 44 years of age and older.


Participants were recruited in 1993 or 1999, and when they enrolled, each woman measured body mass index, lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and dietary habits), pre-existing health conditions, reproductive health and completed a comprehensive questionnaire on working conditions. .


Information on a full 20-year post-heart failure diagnosis was collected by linking study participants to the Danish National Patient Register, which includes records of all health care provided in Danish hospitals. Patient data was collected as of December 31, 2014.


The study group lived in rural, urban and suburban areas throughout Denmark. To best quantify individual exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise, the researchers maintained a record of each individual’s residential address, including any moves to new dwellings from 1970 and 2014.


To determine the level of air pollution, annual mean concentrations of two components, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), were measured using the Danish Air Pollution Modeling System. Road traffic noise levels within a radius of three kilometers from the participants’ residential addresses were estimated using a validated model system called Nord2000 and measured in decibels (dB), the standard unit for sound intensity.


An analysis of various pollutants and their effects on the incidence of heart failure were found:
For every 5.1 ug/m3 increase in particulate exposure over three years, the risk of heart failure increased by 17 percent. For every 8.6 ug/m3 increase in NO2 exposure over three years, the risk of heart failure increased by 10 percent. For every 9.3 dB increase in road traffic noise exposure over three years, the risk of heart failure increased by 12 percent; And increased exposure to particulate matter and status as a former smoker was linked to a 72 percent increased risk of heart failure.


“We were surprised at how the two environmental factors — air pollution and road traffic noise — interacted,” Lim said. “Air pollution was a stronger contributor to the incidence of heart failure than road traffic noise; however, women exposed to both high levels of air pollution and road traffic noise showed the highest increase in heart failure risk. In addition, about 12 percent of total study participants had high blood pressure at the time of study enrollment. However, 30 percent of nurses with heart failure events had a previous history of high blood pressure, and were the most susceptible population to exposure to air pollution.”


The study has several limitations. The researchers did not have information about additional variables that could have affected the results of the analysis, such as measures of each individual’s exposure to indoor air pollution or occupational noise; time spent outside; the glass thickness of the windows of their house, which can affect the level of noise pollution; if they had hearing impairment; or individual socioeconomic status.


Additionally, approximately one-quarter of the original participants in the Danish nurse cohort were excluded from the final analysis because information was missing at the beginning of the study or at the completion of the study, so selection bias may be a contributing factor.


The researchers also note that since they examined the risk levels and health outcomes of Danish female nurses, generalizing the results to men or other populations warrants caution.


Previous research has shown an association between air pollution and heart disease, and the American Heart Association detailed a collection of research on pollution risks in a 2004 scientific statement, adding additional updated findings in 2010.


American Heart Association American in 2020 The Heart Association published a scientific statement and policy guidance to address the effects of air pollution in the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The policy statement discusses policy guidance at the local, state and federal levels to improve the health of our communities. Short-term exposure to high levels of certain air pollutants has also been linked to heart failure.


Co-authors are Janet Therming Jorgensen, MSc, Ph.D.; Reena So, Ph.D. student; Tom Cole-Hunter, Ph.D.; Amar Mehta, SD; Heresh Amini, Ph.D.; Elvira Brunner, Ph.D.; Rudy Westendorp, MD, Ph.D.; Shuo Liu, MPH; Last Mortensen, Ph.D.; Barbara Hoffman; Stephen Loft, DMSc.; Matthias Ketzel, Ph.D.; Ole Hertel, D.Sc.; Jorgen Brandt, Ph.D.; Stein Solvang Jensen, Ph.D.; Claus Backlarz; Mete K. Simonsen, M.Sc.; Nebojsa tyasik; Matija Maric; and Zorana J. Anderson, Ph.D. The authors’ disclosures are in the manuscript.


The study was funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research, the Region Zeeland Fund and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Program. (ANI)

First published:October 10, 2021, 3:31 pm

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