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AHA Cites New Evidence for Air Pollution’s Role in Heart Events

Last Updated: May 10, 2010.

Exposure to particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in diameter has a causal role in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, even if the exposure is not long term, and it is a modifiable risk factor, according to an update to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online May 10 in Circulation.

MONDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5) has a causal role in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, even if the exposure is not long term, and it is a modifiable risk factor, according to an update to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online May 10 in Circulation.

Robert D. Brook, M.D., and colleagues, on behalf of the American Heart Association, reviewed new evidence linking PM exposure with cardiovascular disease, highlighting in particular the clinical implications for health care providers and researchers. They updated a scientific statement published in 2004.

The researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 over a period of a few hours to weeks can trigger cardiovascular disease-related events and mortality; exposure of a few years increases the risk for cardiovascular mortality to an even greater degree. They write that reductions in PM levels are linked to decreases in cardiovascular mortality in as short a time as a few years. According to the statement, there is now credible evidence of the biological plausibility of these findings; the evidence is consistent with a causal relationship between PM2.5 exposure and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality; and PM2.5 exposure should be considered a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor.

"A wide array of new studies that range from epidemiology to molecular and toxicological experiments have provided additional persuasive evidence that present-day levels of air pollutants contribute to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although not unexpected, given the numerous and heterogeneous nature of the published studies, all findings related to every single cardiovascular end point have not been consistent. However, the overall weight of scientific evidence now supports several new conclusions since the 2004 statement," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical or energy industry.

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