Air pollution may have detrimental effects on the heart in individuals with hypertension and kidney disease, according to a study.
The researchers found that in adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in addition to hypertension, air pollution exposure was associated with rising levels of Galectin 3, a marker of scarring in the heart.
The findings were presented online at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2021 on Thursday.
"Air pollution may be directly linked to the development of myocardial fibrosis in individuals with CKD," said study lead author Hafsa Tariq, from Case Western Reserve University in the US.
Myocardial fibrosis arises when a type of cell in the heart called fibroblasts to produce collagenous scar tissue. It can lead to heart failure and death.
"Efforts to limit air pollution could have a beneficial effect on lowering subclinical cardiovascular disease in CKD," Tariq said.
Satellite-derived measurements of smaller particulate matter, PM2.5, were linked with participants in the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial.
A total of 1,019 participants with available Galectin 3 levels at study baseline and 24 months follow-up were included in these analyses.
The researchers adjusted for age, sex, race and body mass index, among many other factors to assess the association between air pollution and Galectin 3 at baseline and longitudinal change at two years.
The study concluded that air pollution may be associated with worsening myocardial fibrosis as evidenced by increasing levels of Galectin 3 in individuals with preexisting CKD.
The researchers noted that further studies are needed to corroborate these findings with rigorous cardiac imaging studies.