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Heart study suggests city center pollution doubles risk of calcium build-up in arteries

aged 60 (both 52%).

Air pollution levels were extracted from a national surveillance source. This showed that rates were approximately three times higher in city centres than other urban areas and seven times higher than in rural areas.

Key findings included:

  • CAC was more common in people living in city centres, rather than urban or rural areas in men (69% v 56%), women (42% v 30%), 50 year-olds (48% v 32%) and 60 year-olds (61% v 53%).

  • When the researchers looked at the odds ratio, this showed that people living in city centres were 80% more likely to develop CAC than those living in urban or rural areas.

  • Men were more than three times as likely as women to develop CAC, with a 220% higher odds risk.

  • 60 year-olds were approximately twice as likely to develop CAC as 50 year-olds (120% higher) as were smokers than non-smokers (90% higher) and people with diabetes when compared with those without diabetes (100% higher).

  • High cholesterol raised the odds of developing CAC by 60% and high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease both raised the odds by 50%.

"Our study shows that living in a city centre and traditional risk factors for heart disease were independently associated with the presence of CAC in a group of middle-aged subjects who did not display any symptoms" concludes Dr Lambrechtsen.

"The place where a person lives is often used as a surrogate for exposure to air pollution in research. In this study we found that, even after adjusting for demographic and clinical variables, where people lived was independently associated with CAC and that CAC levels were highest in people living in city centres.

"A number of factors can also influence CAC, such as noise and stress levels and it could be assumed these would be higher in city centres. However, in this study stress levels, as measured by average blood pressure, were actually lower in c

Contact: Annette Whibley

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