Air pollution places employees with heart, lung conditions at risk
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, examined 30 Atlanta-area individuals with lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or heart disease (previous myocardial infarction). Relationships between pollution exposure and heart rate variability -- a risk factor for sudden cardiac death which reflects weakened control of the heart by the autonomic nervous system -- were assessed. Using portable monitors to measure personal exposure to air pollution allowed researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health to show associations missed by previous studies based on ambient levels of air pollution.
The link effects of traffic-related pollutants and heart rate variability may also help to explain previous studies showing an increased risk of heart attack in the hour immediately after periods stuck in traffic, the researchers suggested. However, the study concluded that other factors would have to be taken into account, including the high stress levels from being stuck in traffic.
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September 9, 2010
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