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Joined: 02 May 2005
|Posted: Tue May 31, 2005 1:12 pm Post subject:
People with diabetes more sensitive to cardiovascular effects from air pollution
"People with diabetes more sensitive to cardiovascular effects from air
pollution", Medical News Today, May 31, 2005,
People with diabetes may be at higher risk for cardiovascular problems
when air pollution levels are higher, according to a new study of
Boston-area residents. The ability of the blood vessels to control
blood flow was impaired in adults with diabetes on days with elevated
levels of particles from traffic and coal-burning power plants.
The researchers evaluated several kinds of fine particles found in
urban air pollution. These included sulfate particles, which come
mainly from coal-burning power plants, as well as ultra-fine particles
and black carbon soot, which are generated primarily by diesel- and
"Our strongest finding was that blood vessel reactivity was impaired in
people with diabetes on days when concentrations of sulfate particles
and black carbon were higher," said Marie O'Neill, Ph.D., an
epidemiologist now with the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society
Scholars program at University of Michigan and lead author on the
study. "Impaired vascular reactivity has been associated with an
increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other heart problems."
"Previous studies have shown that when air pollution levels are higher,
people with diabetes have higher rates of hospitalization and death
related to cardiovascular problems," said NIEHS Director David
Schwartz, M.D. "These changes in blood vessel reactivity may help
explain this phenomenon."
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the
National Institutes of Health, provided funding to O'Neill and other
researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health for the study. Other
collaborators were from the Joslin Diabetes Center and Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The findings are published in the
June 2005 issue of the journal Circulation.
"We don't really understand why fine particles may cause this decrease
in vascular reactivity," said O'Neill. "Further research is needed to
confirm this association between air pollution and vascular health and
to understand what causes people with diabetes to be especially
Researchers recruited 270 greater Boston metropolitan residents and
divided them into two groups. The first group consisted of subjects
with a positive diagnosis of type I or type II diabetes. The second
group included subjects who were not diabetic, but who had a family
history of diabetes or blood sugar levels slightly higher than normal.
The investigators used a technique called brachial artery ultrasound to
assess blood vessel response in the study subjects. The measurement was
obtained by applying a pressure cuff to the subject's upper arm and
cutting off the blood flow through the arm's main artery. Researchers
then released the cuff, allowing the blood to rush through. The
researchers then evaluated changes in the diameter of the main artery
as a result of the physical stress placed on the vessel.
"We observed an 11 percent decrease in diabetics' vascular reactivity
on days when sulfate particle concentrations were higher than normal,"
said O'Neill. "We also noted a 13 percent decrease in their vascular
reactivity on days with higher-than-normal black carbon
"We hope our study will remind people that reducing air pollution is
important for everyone's health, but especially for vulnerable members
of our population, including the elderly and people with chronic health
problems such as diabetes," she said.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which blood sugar levels are
elevated because levels of insulin are too low. Insulin is the hormone
needed to process sugars and starches into energy. Diabetes is widely
recognized as one of the leading causes of death and disability in the
United States, affecting some 13.3 million Americans. Research
conducted in Montreal, Quebec from 1984 to 1993 showed that
hospitalizations and deaths related to cardiovascular problems
increased among diabetics when levels of air pollution were higher.
The funding for the air pollution monitoring was provided by the
Environmental Protection Agency's Particulate Matter Research Center.
Contact: John Peterson
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
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