-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Living near a major road may
result in reduced kidney function, which could, in turn, increase
people's risk for heart attack and stroke, according to a new
The study, published online May 13 in the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved more
than 1,100 adults who were admitted to a Boston-area hospital after
suffering a stroke between 1999 and 2004. Half of the participants
lived within three-fifths of a mile of a major road. The rest lived
up to six miles away.
Each patient underwent two tests to measure how well their
kidneys were working. First, a blood test assessed their level of
creatinine, a byproduct of muscle metabolism. Their glomerular
filtration rate, which shows how well creatinine is filtered out of
the body by the kidneys, also was analyzed. A low filtration rate
indicates worse kidney function.
Patients who lived closest to a busy road had the lowest
glomerular filtration rate, after their age, sex, race, smoking
status, and previous treatment for heart disease or other
underlying conditions were taken into account, according to a
journal news release.
Although the study tied living near heavy traffic to possible
harm to kidney function, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
"If causal, these results imply that exposures associated with living near a major roadway contribute to reduced renal function, an important risk factor for cardiovascular events," wrote Dr. Murray Mittleman, of the cardiovascular epidemiology research unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues.
Pollution caused by traffic can lead to the accumulation of
arterial plaque and changes to peripheral arteries, the researchers
said. The kidneys are very susceptible to the build-up of arterial
plaque, they added. Impaired kidney function is a risk factor for
cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the researchers suggested,
living near a roadway with heavy traffic could contribute to
negative effects of air pollution on heart health.
The authors estimated that living very close to a major road was
associated with a 4 percent higher rate of cardiovascular death and
a 1 percent greater risk of death from any cause compared to the
risk of people living at least a few miles away.
"There is growing evidence that living near major roadways contributes to the incidence of vascular disease, and adverse prognosis among patients with prevalent cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote.
The World Health Organization has more about
air quality and health.
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