Numerous environmental factors can cause or contribute to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, while a person's risk of heart disease from environmental factors is lower than other known cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, pollution is a significant public health problem due to the large number of people exposed and the length of exposure. A person, especially a person that lives in an urban environment, is exposed to many types of pollution each day.
Airborne particulate matter is an environmental factor that can cause or contribute to heart disease. According to a 2010 scientific statement on air pollution and heart disease by the AHA published in the journal "Circulation," there exists a causal relationship between particulate matter exposure and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and particulate matter is a modifiable environmental factor that contributes to heart disease. A 2005 study by Stephanie von Klot, Ph.D. and colleagues published in "Circulation" states that ambient air pollution, including particulate matter, is associated with elevated risk of hospital cardiac re-admissions of heart attack survivors in five European cities. According to a 2005 study by A. Peters published in the journal "Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology," evidence suggests that ambient particulate matter not only exacerbates existing cardiovascular disease, but that it also increases a person's vulnerability to acute coronary events.
Secondhand smoke is an environmental factor that causes or contributes to heart disease. A 2005 report by Dr. Joaquin Barnoya and Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D. published in the journal "Circulation" states that secondhand or environmental smoke boosts a person's risk of coronary heart disease by 30 percent, accounts for at least 35,000 deaths each year in the United States and that the effects of secondhand smoke are significant and rapid. Barnoya and Glantz suggest numerous mechanisms or reasons why secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease, including the following: increased platelet stickiness, endothelial dysfunction or problems with the inner lining of blood vessels, increased arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis, inflammation, decreased heart muscle energy production and reduced parasympathetic or relaxation stimulus to the heart.
Noise pollution is an environmental factor that can cause or contribute to heart disease. According to a 2002 research article by Elise E. M. M. van Kempen and colleagues published in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," long-term exposure to air traffic noise is associated with the use of cardiovascular medicines, angina and consultation with a general practitioner or specialist, and that cross-sectional studies show that road traffic noise exposure increases a person's risk for heart attack and total ischemic heart disease. The authors of this research article conclude that noise pollution or exposure contributes to the prevalence of cardiovascular disease. A 2000 study by Wolfgang Babisch published in the journal "Noise and Health" states that there is some evidence in the literature that ischemic heart disease is associated with noise pollution, especially among those living in areas with outdoor noise levels higher than 65 to 70 dBA.
- American Heart Association: Air Pollution, Heart Disease and Stroke
- "Circulation"; Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease; Robert D. Brook, M.D. et al.; 2010
- "Circulation"; Ambient Air Pollution; Stephanie von Klot, Ph.D. et al.; 2005
- "Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology"; Particulate Matter and Heart Disease; A. Peters; September 2005
- "Circulation"; Cardiovascular Effects of Secondhand Smoke; Joaquin Barnoya, M.D., MPH et al.; 2005