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Journal Article

Luftverschmutzung und Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen: Air pollution and cardiovascular diseases


Lelieveld,  Jos
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Münzel, T., Hahad, O., Daiber, A., & Lelieveld, J. (2021). Luftverschmutzung und Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen: Air pollution and cardiovascular diseases. Herz, 46. doi:10.1007/s00059-020-05016-9.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-03B3-A
Air pollution in the environment and in households is responsible worldwide for almost 9 million preventable premature deaths per year and almost 800,000 such deaths within Europe. Air pollution therefore shortens life expectancy worldwide by almost 3 years. Smoking, a proven cardiovascular risk factor, shortens the mean life expectancy by 2.2 years. Epidemiological studies have shown that air pollution from fine and coarse particulate matter is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Responsible for this are mainly cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, hypertension and also diabetes, which are mainly caused or aggravated by fine particulate matter. After inhalation fine particulate matter can reach the brain directly and also reach the bloodstream via a transition process. There, the particles are absorbed by the blood vessels where they stimulate the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the vascular wall. They therefore promote the formation of atherosclerotic changes and in this way increase the cardiovascular risks, especially an increase in chronic ischemic heart disease and stroke. Recent studies also reported that in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients a high degree of air pollution is correlated with severe disease courses with cardiovascular complications and pulmonary diseases. This necessitates preventive measures, such as lowering of the upper limits for air pollutants. Individual measures to mitigate the health consequences of fine particulate matter are also discussed.