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High Blood Pressure Could be Due to Long-Term Particulate Matter Pollution

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is the greatest health hazard globally, causing over 4.2 million deaths per year.

High Blood Pressure Could be Due to Long-Term Particulate Matter Pollution.
The research team: Sergio Valdés, Gemma Rojo, and Viyey Doulatram, from CIBERDEM and IBIMA. (Image Credit: Sergio Valdés, Gemma Rojo and Viyey Doulatram).

As per a study published in the journal Scientific Reports by the Biomedical Research Networking Centre in Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Disorders (CIBERDEM) and the Biomedical Research Institute of Málaga (IBIMA), chronic exposure to particulate matter adds to the danger of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and is particularly related with to blood pressure.

The research by Gemma Rojo’s team has evaluated the effect of particulate pollution on the long-term prevalence of hypertension in Spain, supporting the necessity to enhance air quality to the extent possible so as to decrease the danger of cardiometabolic diseases among the population.

Therefore, researchers at CIBERDEM have conducted a study, [email protected], where 1,103 people aged between 18 and 83 participated. At the beginning of the study (2008-2010), no participant was diagnosed with high blood pressure hypertension. The participants were observed until 2016-17.

The cohort participants were exposed to air pollution concentrations for particulate matter, achieved through combined modeling, with measurements noted at air quality stations. During this period, 282 cases of incident high blood pressure were logged.

The study has been conducted in partnership with the air pollution department of the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT).

Several previous studies have described the short- and long-term association of ambient air pollutants with hypertension and blood pressure levels, but few studies have addressed the association between long-term exposure to these particles and the incidence of hypertension in a prospective manner. Therefore, the [email protected] study has offered us the opportunity to do so in the Spanish population.

Sergio Valdés, Researcher, CIBERDEM, IBIMA

Sergio Valdés is also an endocrinologist at Hospital Regional Universitario de Málaga,

During the study periods, the participants submitted to a medical examination at a health center and blood samples were drawn for testing. Furthermore, a questionnaire was used to capture information on age, sex, educational level, alcohol consumption, smoking, ethnicity and other variables.

Food consumption was established using a Mediterranean diet adherence questionnaire, the level of physical exercise was considered and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. Blood pressure was calculated with a blood pressure monitor, and it was established as hypertension if the mean systolic blood pressure was more than or equal to 140 mmHg and/or if the mean diastolic blood pressure was more than or equal to 90 mmHg.

The Greatest Threat to the Cardiovascular System

Our data is consistent with a large body of evidence suggesting that air pollution may contribute to the pathogenesis of hypertension. It also supports the idea that the particulate component of air pollution is the greatest threat to the cardiovascular system.

Gemma Rojo, Study Final Signatory and Head of CIBERDEM group, IBIMA

In this regard, she explains, "Although previous associations between exposure to gaseous pollutants and hypertension have shown some discrepancies, most studies reporting long-term exposure to particulate matter and incident high blood pressure have reported positive associations consistent with our findings."

In brief, the CIBERDEM study adds to measuring the effect of particulate pollution on the incidence of high blood pressure in Spain.

Our results support the need to improve air quality to the extent possible in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure among our population, as even moderate levels such as those we report here increase the risk significantly.

Sergio Valdés, Researcher, CIBERDEM, IBIMA

Journal Reference:

Doulatram-Gamgaram, V., et al. (2021) Association between long term exposure to particulate matter and incident hypertension in Spain. Nature.


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