Senior study Dr. Barbara Hoffman of the University of Duisburg-Essen says earlier studies have shown acute increases in particulate air pollution, such as day-to-day fluctuations, can raise blood pressure. Hoffman and colleagues used data from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, an ongoing of study of heart disease of almost 5,000 people from 2000 to 2003.
"Our results show that living in areas with higher levels of particle air pollution is associated with higher blood pressure," Hoffman says in a statement.
The study finds average arterial blood pressure rose by 1.7 mmHg for an increase of 2.4 µg/m³ in the exposure level to fine particulate matter -- under 2.5 μm -- emitted by traffic, heating, industry and power plants.
"Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are higher in people who live in more polluted areas, even if we take important factors that also influence blood pressure like age, gender, smoking, weight, etc. into account," Hoffman says in a statement. "Blood pressure increases were stronger in women than in men."
The findings are scheduled to be presented at the ATS International Conference in New Orleans.