Last updated Oct 7, 2019
Researchers have found that people exposed to air pollution well within UK guidelines have changes in the structure of the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure. The research was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and was published in the journal Circulation. A team of London and Oxford scientists studied data from around 4,000 UK Biobank participants.Researchers accessed information about lifestyles, health records and details on where you have lived, so they could remove patients with underlying heart problems, or those who had moved house during the study. Heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to measure the size, weight and function of the participants’ hearts. Even though most participants lived outside major UK cities, there was a clear association between those who lived near loud, busy roads, and were exposed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or small particles of air pollution (called PM2.5) and the development of larger right and left ventricles in the heart. The ventricles are important pumping chambers in the heart and, although these participants were healthy and had no symptoms, similar heart changes are seen in the early stages of heart failure. Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart.
Read the news story: Research links even low levels of air pollution with serious changes in the heart