WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Researchers found that long-term exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, as well as proximity to vehicular traffic, were associated with severity of coronary artery calcium, or the buildup of plaque in the artery walls.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo found that long-term exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, as well as proximity to vehicular traffic, was associated with severity of coronary artery calcium, or the buildup of plaque in the artery walls. The study was conducted on 8,867 Chinese adults aged 25 to 92.
The study centered on levels of nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5, or fine particulate matter. PM2.5 are super tiny particles that can easily be inhaled, causing serious health problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The study also looked at proximity to traffic and used nitrogen dioxide as a more precise indicator of vehicular emissions. It showed that the risk of a higher coronary artery calcium score increased by 24.5 percent for every 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air increase in nitrogen dioxide.
The findings are significant because while similar studies have been conducted in the U.S. and Europe, this one is the first to investigate the connection between air pollution and coronary artery calcium in China. The country has focused more recently on reducing the extremely high levels of air pollution that exist in some regions, particularly northern China.
Atherosclerosis refers to the build-up of plaque, or fatty deposits, in the artery walls, which, over time, restricts blood flow through the arteries. This can cause a blood clot resulting in a heart attack or stroke.