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Health Warning: Do Not Exercise In Polluted Areas; Air Pollution Weakens Blood Vessel Function In The Lungs

First Posted: Dec 14, 2016 03:40 AM EST

Air pollution produced by humans is already a given. Hence, it shows the cause and effect, as air pollution affects the human health. The current study shows that the pollution impairs the blood vessel functions in the lungs.

A study of more than 16,000 patients found that air pollution weakens the blood vessel function in the lungs. A cardiologist at the University Hospital in Belguim, Dr. Jean-Francois Argacha, said that their study is the first human research to report an influence of air pollution on pulmonary vascular function.

"This is a major public health issue for people living in polluted urban areas where exercise could damage the lungs and potentially lead to decompensated heart failure," Dr. Argacha added. Air pollution consists of particles and gasses.

In the report, the researchers examined the effect of air pollution on pulmonary hemodynamics. The study covers both the effect of pollution in a population and in individuals.

Science Daily reported that, for the individual study, the researchers asked for 10 healthy male participants. They then exposed them to pollutants in a chamber with a standardized condition. The effects on pulmonary vascular resistance were assessed with the use of echocardiography while the participants rest. As for the cardiac stress test, the participants were given the drug dobutamine to stimulate the heart function like that one during exercise.

The result of the individual experiment showed that when exposed to diesel, the pulmonary circulation did not change compared to ambient air when the volunteers were resting. However, when the dobutamine was administered, it changed. To simply explain, Dr. Argacha said: "This suggests that pollution is more harmful to the lung circulation during exercise."

As for the population study, the same day and over five and 10 days, it showed the negative effects of PM10, PM2.5 and ozone on the pulmonary circulation. Specifically, it increases in the pollutants when associated with reduced pulmonary acceleration time and increased pulmonary acceleration slope. As follows, the increase in PM10 and PM2.5 in 10 days were linked with the worsening of the right ventricular function, according to Wigan Today. 

Dr. Argacha said that, "Air pollution was associated with increased pulmonary vascular tone which makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the lungs. Longer exposure to air pollution exposure seems necessary to impair right ventricular systolic function. Patients with obstructive sleep apnoea were at greater risk."

Dr. Argacha added that, "Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution. More studies are needed before specific recommendations on intensity and duration of exercise can be given. However, no strong evidence exists on the effectiveness of face masks to eliminate or reduce particle exposure."

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