Obese people and those with diabetes may be at higher risk of the cardiovascular effects of pollution, while air pollutants may exacerbate and instigate the development of risk factors such as high blood pressure and impaired insulin sensitivity, researchers said.

"More than 3 million deaths worldwide are caused by air pollution each year. Air pollution ranks ninth among the modifiable disease risk factors, ahead of low physical activity, high sodium diet, high cholesterol and drug use," Professor Robert F Storey, corresponding author of the paper
published by the European Society of Cardiology, said.
    
"There is now ample evidence that air pollution is associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It not only makes existing heart conditions worse but also contributes to development of the disease," said Storey.

Avoiding air pollution where possible may help to reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiologists should incorporate this information into lifestyle advice for their patients, he said.     

There is a two way interaction between air pollution and cardiovascular risk factors, the authors noted.     

Obese people and those with diabetes may be at higher risk of the cardiovascular effects of pollution, while air pollutants may exacerbate and instigate the development of risk factors such as high blood pressure and impaired insulin sensitivity, said researchers.

"The public health implications that air pollution might be a ubiquitous environmental risk factor for hypertension and diabetes are enormous," the authors said.
    
The role of indoor air pollution should not be downplayed, warned the authors. Outdoor air pollution infiltrates buildings and most exposure typically occurs indoors.

"Indoor air quality in homes, schools, working places and community sites is not a trivial problem in Europe," said the authors.

The study was published in European Heart Journal.

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