Driving on highways can harm heart

Published: Monday 30 April 2007

If it is bad for rats, it could be bad for you. Driving on highways can harm your heart. A study by Alison Elder and team from the department of Environmental Medicine of the University of Rochester, US, has found a link between long drives on highways and risk of heart diseases.

The study involved rats driven in a mobile laboratory truck on the New York State Thruway between Rochester and Buffalo for 514 km. The rats were exposed to pollution and they showed a significant drop in heart rate, says the study published in the journal Inhalation Toxicology (Vol 19, No 1).

The study says ultrafine particles, which are less than 0.1 micron, are the culprits here. Produced in large numbers by combustion engines these tiny particles enter the bloodstream from the lungs. The researchers say air pollution can change the heart rate independent of other factors, and is a cause of deep concern.

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