Pollution Linked with Heart Disease and Severe Heart Events

Nov 11, 2004

Researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed two previous trials including 800 people over the age of 40 and found that those who lived in areas with more pollution had worse cases of atherosclerotic disease of the carotid arteries (hardening of the arteries) - a sign of heart disease. With worsening pollution there was a corresponding worsening in the condition of the carotid arteries. The effects of pollution on the arteries was even more damaging in women on cholesterol lowering prescription-drugs or if they were postmenopausal. There is a very clear and strong association between air pollution and the level of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Researchers at Toulouse University in France compared pollution levels and the effect on heart events in over 400,000 local inhabitants in France. Elevated ozone levels were strongly connected to cardiac arrest (the heart suddenly stops beating), heart attack and acute chest pain. There is a strong link between even short-term exposure to ozone within one or two days and severe heart events. The studies were presented at the current meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Bextra Increases Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Leading heart researcher Garret Fitzgerald, MD, PharmD, of the University of Pennsylvania says that Bextra, a painkilling, anti-inflammatory drug similar to the drug Celebrex, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and may pose a greater risk than Vioxx. The drug Vioxx was recently withdrawn from the market by its manufacturer because of a definite increase in the number of strokes, heart attacks, and death in Vioxx users. Vioxx was also causing high blood pressure, swelling of the body, and heart failure. In his study Dr Fitzgerald looked at the use of Bextra in greater than 2,000 heart bypass surgery patients and almost 5,700 arthritis patients. The study shows that Bextra more than doubled the risk of both heart attack and stroke in all patients and that the evidence indicates Bextra may be more dangerous than Vioxx. Recently an announcement was made by the drugs manufacturer that Bextra increases the risk of rare but fatal skin conditions.