Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pollution and CAD - An Inconvenient Truth

Traffic jams are a way of life here. I meet it everyday. Thank God that we face in in our cars. In that sense, we are part of the pollution process. For a long time, we have been wondering about the impact of traffic jams on CAD. It is obvious that one of the problem with traffic jams is stress and hypertension. Emotional stress is a part of modern day living. Perhaps that is why there is more heart disease in this modern generation, despite all our effective primary prevention programs.

The latest online journal of Genome Biology reported an article by Dr Andre Nel, a nanomedicine expert, on the effects of diesel and LDL-C on CAD. In an elegant piece of basic science work, he cultured endothelial cells with diesel pollutants and LDL-C, and noted that these cells express more inflammatory molecules, then those cells cultured with either molecule alone. This gives rise to the interesting theory that diesel pollutants and LDL-C excites oxidative stress and this in turn, initiates atherosclerosis. Interesting.

So when we are walking in a space full of smog and pollution, our arterial wall is bombarded with these pollutant/LDL-C molecules, that begins to clog our arteries. Can you imagine what is happening when September comes and the yearly haze begins. Alas, we have no clinical studies here to see if there is an increase incidence of heart attacks, during the "haze months". Perhaps, Malaysia would be a good country for Dr Andre to test his hypothesis in humans.

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