Inhaling a heart attack: How air pollution can cause heart disease

Inhaling a heart attack: How air pollution can cause heart disease

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(quirky music) – [Narrator] One in three Americans suffer from hypertension, a significant health problem that can lead to cardiovascular disease,
heart failure, stroke, diabetes and other
life-threatening problems. Researchers at the University
of Michigan Health System have determined that
the very air we breathe can be an invisible catalyst
to cardiovascular disease. – What we are investigating
is the confluence of two very important public health issues, both high blood pressure or hypertension and fine particle air pollution and their interface of how
the two of them can conspire to increase your risk for
premature mortality and death. Air pollution is a mixture of gases as well as fine particles which are around the 10th of the size of a human hair in diameter. So very, very small. And these gases and particles come from multiple different sources. The primary source is in modern society are the burning of fossil fuels. In our most recent research
at the University of Michigan, we’ve looked at the way particles
can affect human health, very specifically in a
controlled experimental manner. So what we have done is
we have created a facility that’s able to take air pollutants from the everyday existing air and concentrated into a chamber where healthy humans can be exposed and we can monitor the
cardiovascular responses to short term one, two, three hours of inhalation of these particles. – The air quality we
usually expose them to would be also found in
an urban environment near a roadway. We do a variety of vascular testing so we look at their blood
vessels and then their responses before and after being
exposed to air pollution. – Air pollution inhalation
over a two-hour period caused a significant increase in the diastolic blood pressure by between four and six
millimeters of mercury. And people with underlying
coronary heart disease or heart failure or who’s susceptible, this small increase may be exaggerated and cause larger increases as
we’ve seen in other studies or it may actually be able to trigger acute cardiovascular events
such as heart failure and stroke Our physiologic studies
have really corroborated with the large epidemiologic
findings have shown and that is indeed short-term
exposure to air pollutants can illicit responses
capable of triggering cardiovascular events such
as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure in susceptible
or vulnerable individuals. I think there are very
important practical measures that one could take to
try to avoid exposure to high levels of air pollution. Most of these are very
practical, feasible methods Such as trying to avoid exposure
to high levels of traffic and using common sense, not exercising during rush hour times or by a busy highways or freeways. And if indeed it’s shown from the sources where air pollution levels are forecasted that the levels are going to be high, to potentially avoid outdoor activity if you’re one that’s a very high risk such as somebody with
underlying heart disease, diabetes or lung disease.

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