Heavy Traffic Linked to Heart Disease
According to a study recently published in the American Heart Association’s Journal, Circulation, the closer people live to roads with heavy traffic and high air pollution, the greater their risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
So what is it in automobile exhaust that causes atherosclerosis? Quite simply, it’s anything that makes its way into the bloodstream that can cause damage to the lining of the arteries, thereby triggering plaque build-up to repair the damage.
In car exhaust, this can include carbon monoxide, nitrates, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. But it may not just be the car exhaust that’s the culprit here. It might be “street dust,” the particulate matter that settles on the road and is stirred up by passing traffic. This can include a whole range of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, nickel, and platinum (from catalytic converters).
- Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and highly poisonous gas and is a primary pollutant in car exhaust. When the level of CO in blood increases, the level of oxygen that blood can carry decreases. Although this may not directly cause damage to the arteries, it has been shown in studies to significantly increase the risk factors in those already prone to cardiovascular problems.
- Sulfur dioxide increases acid levels in the body which makes it harder for the body to clear lactic acid from the muscles surrounding the arteries, exacerbating damage to the arterial wall.
- Heavy metals are a primary trigger in cardiovascular disease – one of the reasons that chelation therapy can make such a difference in the condition of your cardiovascular system.