Carbon Monoxide Exposure Linked to Cardiovascular Risk

Hospital admissions for CVD even increased for CO exposures below U.S. regulatory standards
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease episodes in urban areas rise with same-day increases in the environmental level of carbon monoxide (CO), according to a study published online Aug. 31 in Circulation.

Michelle L. Bell, Ph.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed data on emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease episodes for Medicare beneficiaries (aged at least 65 years) during the period 1999 to 2005 for 126 U.S. urban counties with populations over 200,000. The researchers correlated the admissions data with air pollution statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency on CO, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), elemental carbon, and fine particulate matter.

The researchers found that there was a significant and positive correlation between same-day CO levels and risk of hospitalization for total cardiovascular disease and constituent diseases, including heart failure, ischemic heart disease, heart rhythm disturbances, and cerebrovascular disease. The CO correlation remained significant, though attenuated, with adjustment for co-pollutants, in particular NO2. The researchers calculated that a 1-ppm increase in same-day daily one-hour maximum CO increased risk of cardiovascular disease admission by 0.96 percent. After NO2 adjustment, the increased risk of cardiovascular disease admission was 0.55 percent.

"We found evidence of an association between short-term exposure to ambient CO and risk of cardiovascular disease hospitalizations, even at levels well below current U.S. health-based regulatory standards. This evidence indicates that exposure to current CO levels may still pose a public health threat, particularly for persons with cardiovascular disease." the authors conclude.

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