Air pollution is an hypertension risk factor

Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, artery aneurysms, peripheral arterial disease, and is a cause of chronic kidney disease

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Air pollution is an hypertension risk factor

Arterial hypertension is a clinical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries of the systemic circulation is elevated. This results in increased work for the heart. Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, artery aneurysms, peripheral arterial disease, and is a cause of chronic kidney disease.

Even moderate elevations in blood pressure are associated with a reduction in life expectancy. Dietary and lifestyle changes can significantly improve blood pressure control and reduce the risk of health complications. However, drug treatment is often needed in people for whom lifestyle changes are ineffective or insufficient.

Hypertension is rarely accompanied by symptoms and its identification is usually through screening, or when being treated for another unrelated problem. Some people with hypertension, however, complain of headaches, especially in the upper area and in the morning, and fainting spells.

Lightheadedness, dizziness, tinnitus, and impaired vision are symptoms usually related only to anxiety-related hypertension. The study Noise and Air Pollution as Risk Factors for Hypertension: Part I-Epidemiology, published on the Hypertension, has made an interesting retrospective on the subject.

The researchers explain: "Traffic noise and air pollution are 2 major environmental health risk factors in urbanized societies that often occur together. Despite co-occurrence in urban settings, noise and air pollution have generally been studied independently, with many studies reporting a consistent effect on blood pressure for individual exposures.In the present reviews, we will discuss the epidemiology of air pollution and noise effects on arterial hypertension and cardiovascular disease (part I) and the underlying pathophysiology (part II).

Both environmental stressors have been found to cause endothelial dysfunction , oxidative stress, vascular inflammation, circadian dysfunction, and activation of the autonomic nervous system, thereby facilitating the development of hypertension.

We also discuss the effects of interventions, current gaps in knowledge, and future research tasks.From a societal and policy perspective, the health effects of both air pollution and traffic noise are observed well below the current guideline recommendations.

To this end, an important goal for the future is to increase the acceptance of environmental risk factors as important modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, given their substantial impact on the burden of cardiovascular disease."