It’s due to pollution: Do YOU live in one of these places? – If you do, be sure to eat your broccoli! We are used to thinking of heart disease as a product of genetic factors or lifestyle choices, such as what we eat and how much we exercise. There is another road to heart disease: breathing.
Accumulating evidence indicates that an increase in particulate air pollution is associated with an increase in heart attacks and deaths. There have been a number of studies connecting pollution with heart disease: A study of six US cities found that people died earlier when they lived in cities with higher pollution levels. A majority of these deaths were due to heart disease. A study of 250 metropolitan areas around the world found a spike in air pollution is followed by a spike in heart attacks. A study in Salt Lake City found that when a nearby steel mill shut down for a period of months, there was a 4-6% drop in mortality. The mortality rose to previous levels when the steel mill reopened.
One intriguing statistic is that the risk of heart attack increases in parallel with time spent in traffic the previous day. In animal experiments, aldehydes (a toxic class of chemicals found in most forms of smoke, including cigarette smoke and car exhaust) increase blood cholesterol levels and activate enzymes that cause plaque in the blood vessels to rupture. When plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot, which may block an artery and lead to a heart attack.If you live in an area where pollution levels may be high, you can take steps to reduce the risk of air pollution, Dr. Brook said. During times when air quality is unhealthy, exercise indoors, because indoor air is filtered. If you exercise outdoors, particularly if you’re at risk for heart disease, do it when pollutants are at lower levels. Avoid peak traffic times. And be sure to include broccoli in your diet.
And air pollution gives us yet another reason to eat our broccoli: researchers have found a naturally occurring compound broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables that may help protect against respiratory inflammation that causes conditions like asthma, allergic rhinitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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