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Air pollution affects the heart

Air pollution is known for its adverse effects on the heart among the young and old.There are tiny pollutant particles called PM10s, which have a diameter of less than ten micrometres. These can cause problems with lung and heart function, by entering the circulation, especially in people with pre-existing disease.

According to a new study by researchers at Harvard University now reveals that the adverse effects of pollution may affect everyone and not only older people.// They studied the impact of particles called PM2.5s - with diameters less than 2.5 micrometres - on a group of apparently healthy boiler makers.

This group of men with an average age of 38 were exposed to levels of pollution similar to that in the general environment. During the study they wore an air sampler -to check PM2.5 level - and a heart rate monitor. There was a 2.6 per cent decrease in heart rate variability for every milligram per cubic metre increase in PM2.5s.

People may think your heart should beat regularly but, in fact, the ability to adapt heart rate with minor fluctuations in its beat rate is a sign of good health. Heart rate variability indicates the state of the blood vessels, blood pressure and the heart's electrical activity. The fact that air pollution appears to be linked with a decrease in heart rate variability shows that it has an adverse impact on the heart.


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