Smog Poses a Threat to Heart Health
May 27, 2016
U.S. News and World Report — Air pollution can worsen heart disease risk factors, especially in people with diabetes, a new BGU study suggests.
Maayan Yitshak Sade, Ph.D. candidate at BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and chief science officer at Soroka University Medical Center, is the lead author.
“We found an association between air pollution exposure in the intermediate term and undesirable changes in cholesterol,” she says. “This suggests that cumulative exposure to air pollution over the course of a lifetime could lead to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The researchers analyzed the results of more than 600,000 blood samples taken between 2003 and 2012 from more than 73,000 adults in southern Israel. All of the participants were smokers or had been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or abnormal levels of fat in the blood.
Those exposed to higher levels of air pollution in the previous three months had higher blood sugar levels, higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fats in the blood, and lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol than those exposed to lower levels of air pollution.
“While air pollution is linked with relatively small changes in cardiometabolic risk factors, the continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern,” says Dr. Victor Novack, head of Soroka’s Clinical Research Center, who received his doctorate from BGU.
“Even small changes in glucose levels and glycemic control can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” he explains.
The study was published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.