Einstein (São Paulo) (Mar 2008)

Air pollution and its impact on the cardiovascular system

  • Marjorie Paris Colombini

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 2
pp. 221 – 226


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Despite the great medical advances, cardiovascular disease remains one of the major causes of mortality worldwide, especially in industrialized countries. It develops as a result of countless complex interactions between genetic factors such as those related to age, sex, family history, weight, and post-menopausal status in women; and to environment-related factors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol use, eating habits, physical activity, and others. For more than a decade, several epidemiological studies have demonstrated the existence of a consistent association between air pollution and increased risk for cardiovascular events, that is, not only cardiovascular death, but also acute myocardial infarction and arrhythmias. Experimental studies in different animal species, observational studies in humans, as well as in vitro cellular and acellular models attempt to elucidate the probable biological mechanisms that lend plausibility to these associations, but they fail to do it clearly, since the severity and progression of cardiovascular disease are much more affected than is its induction. However, some effects resulting from the exposure to different air pollutants have been evidenced and the most significant of which involve pulmonary and systemic inflammatory response, blood clotting disorders, promotion and potentiation of the atherosclerotic process, and cardiac autonomic dysfunction.