Urban air pollution may increase the risk of high blood pressure, new research suggests.
In a study of 5,000 people, German researchers looked at the effect of air pollution on blood pressure between 2000 and 2003. They found that long-term exposure increased blood pressure, especially for women, BBC News reported.
"This finding points out that air pollution does not only trigger life-threatening events like heart attacks and strokes, but that it may also influence the underlying processes, which lead to chronic cardiovascular diseases," said study leader Dr. Barbara Hoffman, head of the unit of environmental and clinical epidemiology at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
The link was evident even when age, gender and other factors were taken into account that influence blood pressure, she said.
The research team planned to present its findings at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, which concludes May 19 in New Orleans. The team said efforts should be made to reduce exposure to pollution, BBC News said.
The authors noted that high blood pressure ups the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which is associated with cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes.