New Study Finds Heart Health Affected by Traffic Pollution

A group of researchers in Leeds just released a new study that reveals the carbon monoxide (CO) levels from regular amounts of traffic affect the rhythm of the heart. The study confirms years of studies that revealed regular exposure to CO levels in cities can damage the heart.

The study found that exposure to the gas kept sodium channels open for longer than usual, which affects the heartbeat. A long enough exposure to the gas begins to cause irregular beats of the heart and can sometimes lead to cardiac arrhythmia.

Dr. Helene Wilson, one of the researchers, told the BBC:

This study is a good example of research being used to better understand the underlying causes of an abnormal heart rhythm and in this case it has uncovered the ability of an old drug to perform a new trick.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is tragically common but hopefully these promising results can be replicated in people so that it saves lives in the future.

The Global Post notes that medications and preventative measures can be taken to reverse the damaging effects of CO exposure. A current angina drug can help stabilize the heart and recover the regular heart beats required for healthy blood pressure and physical health. The drug has been tested in partnership with researchers in France but has not been put out on the market quite yet for use as a measure against CO exposure.

Chris Peers from the University of Leeds, where the study was conducted, told the BBC:

At the moment no one knows how to treat this. We’re saying look there’s a drug on the shelf that might be able to help.

Of course it needs clinical trials, but we believe it is a great start.

As many as 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year according to the Department of Health and Senior Services. In addition, about 50 UK residents die from exposure to the toxin every year.

The CO study was announced the same week as researchers discovered that exposure to an artificial butter flavoring ingredient, called diacetyl, has the potential to affect brain function. There is a possible link between this ingredient and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The study revealed that some factory workers may be at high risk of over-exposure to the substance, according to HealthDay News.

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Photo Credit: Osvaldo Gago

24 comments

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

is anyone shocked. captain obvious has struck again! thanks for the article though :)

Carolyn B.
Carolyn R.4 years ago

When the USA decided we needed to enter WW2, we managed to make the massive shift from an isolationist peacetime economy to a very different way of being - a wartime economy - it effected every segment of manufacturing and distribution of nearly all goods and services, and we managed to do it in a matter of months. It didn't cause a depression, or a recession, it was a source of social, technological and economic PROGRESS: massive and lasting progress in fact. If we could just muster the actual will to change from an oil to a green economy, we could do it. Here is one more reason, a reason we all already knew to be true, now definitely proven - petroleum is bad for us, it's destroying our bodies, our ecosystems, our climate, our cultures, we need to get the will to change to a different way of doing things, not just turning off lights and saving gas, but real change to carelessness for most people and a massive reduction in plastics production and consumption. Or we can go the way of the Easter Island natives, where future intelligences will look at our demise and go "huh? they died out over what?"

Karen Foley
Karen F.4 years ago

makes me wonder about the hordes of cyclists in lycra earnestly peddling along major roads - taking deep breaths of not fresh air but lots of lovely pollution - yucko!

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

do they study again to see what the people were/are eating.

Prentise Wylie
pre,tpse w.4 years ago

Any excuse to sell drugs rather than repair the causes or alleviate symptoms by more natural and healing means.

Heather M
Heather Marv4 years ago

Whatever you do, don't run or walk near traffic if you can help it. Try to find routes where you can walk through parks. Re the butter mentioned I phoned the manufacturer of a margarine we use which has olive oil in it and apparently it also contains Palm Oil. So hard to find things that are good for us and also good for the environment. Looks like its back to butter but I obviously have to check its labels for anything added also re our health.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Well... quite understandably thats the case!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

No surprises here.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W.4 years ago

not surprised

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

no big suprise there.