According to a new report published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, pollution may be much more problematic than previously thought. The study found that citizens living in cities with higher levels of pollution were more likely to suffer from coronary artery calcification than residents in rural communities. CAC is strongly correlated with heart disease and other health complications.
The study followed more than 1,200 men and women between the age of 50 and 60. About a fifth of the participants were located in city centres of major cities in the Denmark. The citizens were all randomly chosen from a national government database. The participants did not show any outward symptoms of CAC, but nearly 50% of them had the condition.
The figure could suggest signs of a major epidemic. However, the difference between the citizens living in major cities and those located in rural communities was more telling. The study found that those living in city centres were 80% more likely to develop coronary artery calcification.
Dr. Jess Lambrechtsen was the lead study author and works at Svendborg Hospital in Denmark. Lambrechtsen said that the study wanted to identify the correlation between heart disease and air pollution. Although that link could be difficult to test directly, Lambrechtsen and the other study authors said that they assumed citizens living in city centres were exposed to higher levels of pollution. Therefore, they found it probably that the increased likelihood of developing CAC was due to citizens being exposed to higher levels of pollution.
In order to make their findings more credible, Lambrechtsen and her team studied the air pollution levels of the cities they studied. This made it easier to draw conclusions between pollution levels and the increased risk of CAC. The authors also controlled the study for other variables such as gender, exact age and other demographic characteristics.
[box type="note"]The study argued that the correlation between pollution levels and the development of CAC is not clearly understood. However, they stated that epidemiologists are going to need to investigate the relationship in greater depth.[/box]