Image: GPS TracklogWhether you are driving or taking a bus, heavy traffic
sucks. It’s irritating, aggravating,
exasperating and now, we find it really is debilitating. A German study found that
heart attack victims are three times more likely to have been in heavy traffic
within an hour before having the attack.
Maybe we should all learn biofeedback.
The study, reported at the American Heart Association’s 49th
Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, also
reported a higher number of heart attacks occurring within six hours of
exposure to traffic. I guess it takes us
awhile to get over the stress of that exposure.
Although driving a car was the most common source of
exposure to traffic, those who rode bicycles or took public transportation also
appear to be at higher risk. Subjects in
the study who had the highest risk of susceptibility to traffic were those in
otherwise high risk groups, such as those with a history of angina, patients
who were unemployed, elderly males and, interestingly, females.
In fact, females were five times more likely than men to
suffer a heart attack within an hour after exposure to traffic. The researchers will study the gender factor
more fully in the future, as females were underrepresented in the current
Annette Peters, Ph.D., lead author of the study and head of
the research unit at the Institute of
Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum
said that “one potential factor could be the exhaust and air pollution coming
from other cars. But we can’t exclude
the synergy between stress and air pollution that could tip the balance.”
Further research will also look into the extent that both
stress and air pollution have on heart attacks.
Another study on heart health and traffic is currently
proceeding at the University of Rochester Particle Center, funded by the EPA. Healthy volunteers are fitted with
electrocardiogram equipment that check for pollution and noise. The volunteers go about their work or other
daily activities and return in five hours to be checked. These studies are now being conducted with
diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
Keeping you posted...