The Heart Disease - Pollution Connection
|The Heart Disease - Pollution Connection||Darrell Miller||07/07/05|
July 07, 2005 05:04 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: The Heart Disease - Pollution Connection
Heart disease isn't the illness we usually associate with the health hazard known as pollution, but perhaps it should be. While pollution is strongly (and rightly) linked to cancer in the public mind, officials now realize that airborne junk can gum up the circulatory system. They've even coined a term for it: environmental cardiology.
The main villain is fine particulate matter, present in factory and vehicle emissions. These particals are so small they sift right through the lungs and into the bloodstream. There, fine particulate ignites inflammation, accelerates arterial narrowing, thickens blood and disrupts the heart's pacemaking mechanism. Other airborne pollutants hazardous to the heart include carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.
As young as it is, environmental cardiology has already taken some interesting turns. At least 17 of 87 government-monitored water contaminants have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Even more intriguing is the theory that pollution may wreak heart disease during adulthood.
After years on the research fringe, environmental cardiology moved to center stage with the publication of its own American Heart Association Scientific Statement, which concluded the air pollution poses as "Serious public health problem" in terms of heart disease. A pronouncement from such a mainline health group has translated into big bucks for studies. The biggest so far: a $30 Million, 10-year effort, led by the University of Washington, that will evaluate roughly 8700 people for signs of pollution sparked cardiovascular illness.
No one is discounting such traditional heart risk factors as poor diet and insufficient exercise. But the air we breathe is making many of our hearts sick and it's about time big medicine started sitting up and taking notice. --Lisa James....