City centre residents who took part in a study were almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery calcification (CAC), which can lead to heart disease, than people who lived in less polluted urban and rural areas, according to research published in the May issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Researchers spoke to 1,225 men and women aged 50 and 60 years of age, including 251 (20%) who lived in the centres of major Danish cities.
Despite the fact that none of the participants showed any symptoms of heart disease, 43% of the total had CAC. The study also found that people who lived in city centres were 80% more likely to develop CAC than those living in other areas and that males, older participants, diabetics and smokers also faced higher risks.
"Our study aimed to evaluate the association between living in a city centre, which is often used by researchers to indicate exposure to air pollution, and the presence of coronary artery calcification in men and women showing no other symptoms of heart disease" explains lead author Dr Jess Lambrechtsen from the Department of Cardiology at Svendborg Hospital, Denmark.
Participants were selected at random from a national Government database of Danish adults and 69% agreed to take part and attend one of four regional hospitals in Southern Denmark. They filled out questionnaires about their medical conditions, prescribed medication, smoking habits and family history of heart disease. The clinical examination included height, weight, blood pressure, blood tests and scans.
Three per cent were excluded from the study because of previous heart problems, leaving 1,225 people who did not display any symptoms of heart disease. Of these, 47% were male and 53% were female and they were equally split between the 50 year-old and 60 year-old age groups. One in five were city centre dwellers, with this sample including a slightly higher percentage of females and people
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