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Diesel exhaust associated with higher heart attack, stroke risk in men

Public release date: 5-Nov-2007

ORLANDO, Nov. 6 — Increased roadway pollution produced by diesel fuel in vehicles is leading to a cascade of conditions that could result in heart attack or stroke, researchers suggested in the report of a small study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007

United Kingdom and Swedish researchers found that diesel exhaust increased clot formation and blood platelet activity in healthy volunteers — which could lead to heart attack and stroke.

“The study results are closely tied with previous observational and epidemiological studies showing that shortly after exposure to traffic air pollution, individuals are more likely to suffer a heart attack,” said Andrew Lucking, M.D., lead author of the study and a cardiology fellow at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. “This study shows that when a person is exposed to relatively high levels of diesel exhaust for a short time, the blood is more likely to clot. This could lead to a blocked vessel resulting in heart attack or stroke.”

To measure clot formation, researchers used low and high shear rates, recreating flow conditions inside the body’s blood vessels. Compared to filtered air, breathing air with diluted diesel exhaust increased clot formation in the low shear chamber by 24.2 percent and the high shear chamber by 19.1 percent. This was seen at both two and six hours after diesel exposure.

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