MONDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- A special exhaust filter for diesel engines cuts emissions of heart-harmful microscopic particles by 98 percent, which could lead to fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.
The very tiny particles found in diesel engine exhaust are associated with a slice of the heart disease caused by air pollution, but "if we use these particle traps on diesel engines, then we could significantly reduce the harmful effects of air pollution," said co-senior study author Dr. David E. Newby of the British Heart Foundation.
The study, funded by grants from heart and lung foundations in Britain and Sweden, is published in the April 11 online edition of Circulation.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution -- including pollution from diesel engines -- is a major contributor to 800,000 premature deaths each year around the world.
The filtered exhaust, however, appeared to spare the hearts and lungs of those breathing it, with test subjects experiencing better blood vessel health and more protection against blood clots than those exposed to regular diesel exhaust, according to the team led by Newby, who is also the John Wheatley Chair of Cardiology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
For the three-way double-blind study, Newby's team randomly assigned 19 healthy nonsmoking men to breathe filtered air, unfiltered diesel-engine exhaust and filtered diesel-engine exhaust -- that is, exhaust after it passed through the particle trap. (To make the exhaust safe to breathe, 90 percent was shunted away and the rest mixed with filtered air.)
The men inhaled each gas for one hour and at the same time, alternated moderate 15-minute bouts of exercise with 15 minutes of rest. The sessions were at least a week apart.
The researchers found the particle trap removed some 98 percent of all partic
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