Air Impact to Health – What can particles do to your health?
Study: Heart and Blood Vessels Damaged by Polluted Air
A troubling article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows clear evidence that air pollution does more than damage the lungs and respiratory systems of those exposed to it. According to the article, which was published in August 2008, air pollution can wreak havoc on the heart and blood vessels of people who inhale it on a regular basis. This news increases the concern that is already rampant in the medical community regarding the dangerous effects of air pollution, and highlights the way that the air we breathe can have an incredibly damaging effect on our overall health and well being.
How Ultra Fine Air Pollution Affects the Heart and Blood Vessels
When most people think of the process of respiration, they imagine simply drawing air into their lungs and blowing it back out. However, a lot more goes into it than that; a series of complex chemical exchanges also occurs. Therefore, when air pollution is drawn into the lungs, it isn't then simply exhaled back out into the environment. Instead, it can infiltrate the deepest parts of the lungs, passing into the bloodstream and moving along into the heart and blood vessels around the body.
Inhaled pollutants trigger an increase in what is known as reactive oxygen species, specialized molecules that prompt inflammation in the lungs, damage the cells and trigger an avalanche of very harmful effects on the cardiovascular system and the heart. Studies have shown that hearts that become exposed to ultra fine air pollution demonstrate an immediate decrease in coronary blood flow and the heart's pumping capabilities; in addition, they have a greater tendency to develop arrhythmias changes in the regular functioning of the heart's beating, such as rapid heartbeat or skipped beats.
In addition to the damage that ultra fine air pollutants have been shown to inflict on the heart and the blood vessels, that exposure also causes other potentially deadly problems. Blood pressure and blood clotting can be negatively impacted by exposure to such pollution. Atherosclerosis thickening of the walls of the arteries progresses more quickly in people who are exposed to pollution. Hospital admissions for things like heart attacks, heart failure, chest pain and other problems have been shown to be higher in those who have chronic exposure to ultra fine air pollution. The elderly and those with heart disease or diabetes are especially at risk for the damaging effects of air pollution.
What Does This News Mean for You?
Even though the article in question shows a strong link between outdoor air pollution and damaged hearts and blood vessels, it must be noted that the pollution outside your home is usually present inside it as well. This makes sense; after all, the pollution being highlighted here is ultra fine, meaning that it is incredibly small and can seep into just about anywhere. Additionally, most people spend the majority of their time inside their home if nothing else, the period of time when they sleep guarantees that. So the indoor air quality of your home is potentially damaging your heart and your blood vessels.