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Study: Air pollution increases the risk of high blood pressure


Nitrogen dioxide produced by factories and cars can lead to hypertension
Air pollution affects our health. In cities in particular, air pollution is so strong that we can quickly experience negative effects on our own bodies. Researchers have now found that short-term and long-term exposure to air pollution from vehicle exhaust or the burning of coal is associated with high blood pressure.

Many people suffer from high blood pressure, and scientists from the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention have now found in an investigation that our risk of hypertension is increased by air pollution. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Hypertension".

Study examines data from more than 300,000 subjects
Since the 1990s, many researchers have hypothesized that air pollution increases the risk of hypertension, explains lead author Tao Liu from the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Guangzhou, China. For the new study, the researchers now analyzed the data from 17 studies on air pollution and hypertension. In total, more than 80,000 people with high blood pressure and more than 220,000 subjects without high blood pressure took part in these studies, the doctors explain.

Air pollution can cause inflammation and oxidative stress
The new study found that the short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels and particles such as dust and dirt in the air was associated with the risk of high blood pressure. The experts explain that long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide was caused, for example, by power plants or car emissions. Air pollution can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which can then lead to changes in the arteries, the authors continue.

Even very low concentrations of air pollution can trigger hypertension
There is a linear relationship between air pollution and hypertension. Even a very low level of air pollution can trigger hypertension, Liu Reuters Health said via email. Therefore, everyone should be concerned about the effects of air pollution on their own blood pressure, even if the air pollution is very low in their living environment. Of course, it is unfortunately impossible to remove all air pollutants from our surroundings, adds Liu.

Where does high blood pressure develop?
Hypertension is a common vascular disease. In the disease, the pressure that the blood exerts on the vessels with every heartbeat is too high. Too high blood pressure can arise in various systems in our body. Most of the time, however, the term is used for the form of high blood pressure, which doctors refer to as arterial hypertension. Further studies, especially multicentre studies, are now necessary to investigate a causal relationship between air pollution and high blood pressure, explains lead author Liu. (as)

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