Ozone linked to atherosclerosis

Created date

July 24th, 2019
Researchers from the University of Buffalo have discovered that ozone may cause and/or speed up damage to arteries that can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have discovered that ozone may cause and/or speed up damage to arteries that can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke.

Many studies have linked air pollution to chronic disease, but usually particulate matter in the air is implicated. Now, researchers from the University of Buffalo have discovered that ozone may cause and/or speed up damage to arteries that can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke. 

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examined ambient ozone at ground level, which is not the same as ozone in the atmosphere. 

Study participants numbered about 7,000 and were from six metropolitan regions across the U.S. They were followed for more than ten years. 

Study results

The long-term exposure to ozone was associated with changes in the carotid artery—the main vessel that supplies blood to the head and neck. Specifically, the arteries in the exposed subjects were thicker, and they had a higher risk of arterial plaque. Buildup of these fatty deposits can restrict blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes. 

In previous studies, ground-level ozone has been found to be harmful to other tissues. According to the American Lung Association, ground-level ozone causes lung damage when breathed in.

Particulate matter pollution has decreased over the years due to regulations, but a concurrent reduction in ozone has not been noted, possibly due to climate change. The researchers hope that their results will stimulate more research into the effects of ground-level ozone and help scientists find ways to control it. 

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