Living in a city center was found to be a risk factor for the development of coronary artery calcification. City center residents were twice as likely to have calcium buildup in their arteries vs. those who live in less-polluted urban and rural areas, according to research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Jess Lambrechtsen, MD, PhD, of the department of cardiology at Svendborg Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues examined responses to questionnaires given to 1,225 men (47%) and women with no symptoms of CVD. Half of the participants were aged 50 years, half were 60 years and 20% lived in major Danish city centers.
Researchers recorded air pollution levels from a national surveillance source and found that rates of air pollution were about three times higher in city centers than in other urban areas and seven times higher than in rural areas.
Those living in the city centers were more likely to have coronary artery calcification vs. those living in other urban and rural areas. Sixty-nine percent of men in city centers had calcium buildup vs. 56% of men in other areas. For women, it was 42% vs. 30%; for those aged 50 years, it was 48% vs. 32%; and for 60-year-olds, it was 61% vs. 53%.
Researchers also found that men, those aged 60 years, those with diabetes and current smokers also were at increased risk.
“Our study shows that living in a city center and traditional risk factors for heart disease were independently associated with the presence of coronary artery calcification in a group of middle-aged subjects who did not display any symptoms,” Lambrechtsen said.
“The place where a person lives is often used as a surrogate for exposure to air pollution in research. In this study, we found that, even after adjusting for demographic and clinical variables, where people lived was independently associated with coronary artery calcification and that coronary artery calcification levels were highest in people living in city centers,” Lambrechtsen said.
For more information:
Lambrechtsen J. J Intern Med. 2012;doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2011.02486.x.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.