Air Pollution Linked to Cardiovascular Disease Markers

Clinical significance is uncertain, but findings suggest air pollution is a risk factor for CVD

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Changes in air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics were associated with changes in biomarkers linked to cardiovascular disease in healthy young people, according to a study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on global health.

David Q. Rich, Sc.D., from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues measured pollutants daily and outcomes in 125 healthy young adults before, during, and after the 2008 Olympics (June 2 to Oct. 30). Measurements included C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L), and soluble P-selectin (sCD62P) concentrations; white blood cell count (WBC); heart rate; and blood pressure.

The researchers found that concentrations of particulate and gaseous pollutants decreased substantially (−13 to −60 percent) from the pre-Olympic period to the during-Olympic period. There were statistically significant improvements in sCD62P levels and von Willebrand factor. Changes in the other outcomes were not statistically significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons. In the post-Olympic period, when pollutant concentrations increased, only sCD62P and systolic blood pressure were significantly worsened, compared with the during-Olympic period. The fraction of above-detection-limit values for CRP decreased from 55 to 46 to 36 percent for the pre-Olympic, during-Olympic, and post-Olympic periods, respectively. Interquartile range increases in pollutant concentrations were consistently associated with statistically significant increases in fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, heart rate, sCD62P, and sCD40L concentrations.

"Changes in air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics were associated with acute changes in biomarkers of inflammation and thrombosis and measures of cardiovascular physiology in healthy young persons," the authors write.

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