Urban life `ups blood pressure`

London: People who live in urban areas
tend to have higher blood pressure than those who live in less
polluted areas, a new study has claimed.

Researchers in Germany have based their findings on
an analysis of used data from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study,
an ongoing population-based cohort study of 5,000 individuals
that focuses on the development of heart disease.

The researchers analysed the effects of air pollution
exposure on blood pressure between 2000 and 2003.

"Our results show that living in areas with higher
levels of particle air pollution is associated with higher
blood pressure," said lead researcher Barbara Hoffman at the
University of Duisburg.

The authors used a dispersion and chemistry transport
model to estimate long-term exposure to particulate pollution.

For blood pressure measurement, they used an automated
oscillometric device that detects the blood`s movement through
the brachial artery and converts the movements into a digital

It found that average arterial blood pressure
rose by 1.7 mmHg for an increase of 2.4 ?g/m? in the exposure
level to fine particulate matter which mostly originates from
combustion sources in urban areas (traffic, heating, industry,
power plants).

The researchers found a similar association for
coarser particulate matter under 10’m, which contains more
earth crust material and roadway pollution.

"Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are
higher in people who live in more polluted areas, even if we
take important factors that also influence blood pressure like
age, gender, smoking, etc. into account. Blood pressure
increases were stronger in women than in men," said Hoffman.

High blood pressure increases the risk for
atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, which leads to
cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes, say
the researchers.

"Our results might explain why people who live in more
polluted areas are at a higher risk to suffer and die from
these diseases," said Hoffman.