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Study Ties Environmental Factors to Cardiovascular Health Risks

A recent international study, led by researchers from Mount Sinai Health System and New York University Grossman School of Medicine, quantified the cardiovascular risks of exposure to multiple environmental factors, such as air pollution.

Cardiovascular Health Risks

The study, published on June 24, 2022 in PLOS ONE, was carried out in Iran between 2004 and 2008 in a “lower-income, multi-ethnic, and mostly rural area where cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death.” The team analyzed data from more than 50,000 participants, all over the age of 40, and controlled for traditional risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, tobacco use, and hypertension.

“By combining many environmental factors in a single model, we could better control for interactions between risk factors, and identify which environmental risk factors matter most for cardiovascular health,” said the study’s first author Michael Hadley, MD, a Fellow in Cardiology and incoming Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

  1. According to the independent Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation based at the University of Washington School of Medicine, environmental hazards played a role in an estimated 11.3 million deaths in 2019.

  2. More than 5 million of those deaths were from cardiovascular disease.  

  3. The Mount Sinai-led study showed that air pollution increases the risk of heart disease mortality by 17%, with all-cause mortality risk from air pollution increasing by 20%.

  4. Exposure to indoor burning of wood, dung, or other biomaterials (without ventilation) led to a 36% higher death rate from heart disease and a 23% higher likelihood of all-cause mortality.

  5. Individuals exposed to indoor kerosene burning (without ventilation) were 19% more likely to die from heart disease, with 9% more likely to die from all-cause mortality.

  6. For every six miles participants lived away from a life-saving catheterization lab (catheterization is an investigative procedure that involves inserting a thin, hollow tube into a large blood vessel that leads to the heart), risk of cardiovascular death rose by 2%, with all-cause mortality increasing by 1%.

  7. Residing within approximately 0.06 miles of a smaller roadway and 0.25 miles from a larger highway was associated with a 13% higher risk of all-cause mortality.


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