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Air Pollution Increases Risk Of Heart Disease

Air pollution is a recognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and new research indicates that it is especially detrimental for women with type 2 diabetes. Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reviewed data from more than 100,000 women, comparing rates of cardiovascular disease in connection with air pollution. They found that among women who were affected by air pollution, type 2 diabetes was a more important factor than  age, family history of cardiovascular disease, a woman’s weight, smoking, and region of the country. For non-diabetics in the study, long-term exposure to air pollution led to small, but statistically insignificant increases in the risk of cardiovascular events. The researchers reported that for each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air pollution, a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease rose by 44 percent if she had type 2 diabetes. The 10 micrograms increase in pollution is the equivalent of the difference in air quality between Los Angeles and St. Louis. The researchers suggested that women at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and especially those with type 2 diabetes, take precautions to limit their exposure to air pollution. They also suggested following recommendations to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

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