Menu
About Science
Study reveals why the leopard got its spots
Allergy risk linked to time of first trimester
Hubble reveals furthest galaxy yet
Scientists confirm water from lunar probe
Researchers power up tiny batteries
Plants clean air better than expected
Haiti fault capable of another big quake
Japanese man joins growing genome ranks
NASA releases report into balloon crash
Tree's ability to soak up CO2 has limits
Ground coffee helps robot get a grip
Assassin bugs lure arachnid snack
Research reveals spring in ostrich's step
Lizard gender bends at altitude
Study suggests early primates out of Asia
Flamingos boost their colour to find a mate
Globular clusters more than one-off event
Ancient Africans first to use sharp tools
Grass could turn toxic waste into energy
Earth-like planets may be common
Natural born cell killers
Fingers spot typo ahead of the brain
Ecofriendly styrofoam from milk and clay
Study proves exercise boosts immune system
Blood vessels show pollution, heart disease link
By photographing tiny blood vessels in a person's eyes, researchers have found a way to link exposure to air pollution with a higher risk of heart disease, says a new study.

"New digital photos of the retina revealed that otherwise healthy people exposed to high levels of air pollution had narrower retinal arterioles, an indication of a higher risk of heart disease," says the study in PLoS Medicine.

A person who was exposed to low level of pollution in a short time period showed the microvascular - or extremely tiny - blood vessels "of someone three years older," it says.

Someone who faced longer term exposure to high levels of pollution had the blood vessels of someone seven years older, it says.

"Such a change would translate to a 3% increase in heart disease for a woman living with high levels of air pollution as compared to a woman in a cleaner area," says Dr Sara Adar, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

While the study is not the first to link heart disease and pollution, it is the first to examine the relationship between pollution and microvasculature in humans, says Adar.

The study examined retinal vessels because they are representative of tiny vessels seen elsewhere in the body, but are easily viewed without surgery.

Although the narrowing in the vessels amounted to about 1/100s of a hair's width, "this could have important health consequences if all of the microvasculature in the body is affected in the same way," says Adar.

A total of 4607 people aged 45 to 84 years with no history of heart disease took part in the study.

Researchers took digital retinal photographs of their blood vessels and measured air pollution levels in their homes for two years prior to the eye exams.

They also checked pollution levels on the day before the eye exam to calculate short-term exposure.

"Even though pollution levels in the study were generally below the level that the EPA considers acceptable, these levels still appeared to negatively affect the tiny blood vessels," the study's authors say.

Lead author Joel Kaufman at the University of Washington, Seattle says the research "provides a strong potential link between the epidemiological observations of more cardiovascular events like fatal heart attacks with higher pollution exposures and a verifiable biological mechanism."

Print
Researchers put spark into scramjets
Fish found making their own 'mozzie' nets
Japan confirms asteroid dust on outback probe
Genetech pioneer awarded science prize
Scientists capture anti-matter atoms
Study reveals Icelandic eruption build-up
Astronomers spot galactic intruder
Open-mouthed laughter appreciated most
Financial crisis causes dip in CO2 levels
Puberty genes linked to body fat
Face shields needed for combat: study
Organically-grown vegies not more nutritious
Bloodstains could give age away
Models show pterosaurs flew long, slow
Marsupial carnivores were underestimated
Massive black hole collision revealed
Jet-lag causes long term memory loss
Sunken tanks could detect secret nukes
Dino demise supersized the mammals
Binge drinking linked to heart disease
Cassini sniffs oxygen on Saturnian moon
Image shows echoes from before big bang
Research uncovers diamond's soft side
World warmer, but trends at odds: report
Humans caused megafauna demise: expert
The world: Four degrees warmer
Blood vessels show pollution, heart disease link
Young great whites don't have the bite
Menu
Dolphin social network good for calves
Is fish-oil Alzheimer snake-oil?
Cosmic rays trace Sun's journey through space
Marsupial mole mystery solved
Scientists warn of new polio virus strain
Oldest known stone axe found in Arnhem Land
Fly-by captures first comet photos
Dead quasar's ghostly glow reignites debate
Mum and Dad tell us how to wear our genes
New images expand solar flare knowledge
Experts urge caution on Snowy cloud seeding
First little Big Bangs created at CERN
Tarantulas help map the fear factor
Neanderthal brains developed differently
Whales showing more sun damage
Bush cricket has the biggest balls of all
Giant gamma bubbles found in Milky Way
Complex life possible earlier than first thought
Happiness evades wandering minds?
Cat lapping defies gravity
Physics unravels wet dog shake
Hubble captures rare galactic view
Early wrinkles no sign of an early grave
World's forests suffer from 'leakage'