Exercising May Not Be Good For People In Areas With Polluted Air, Study Shows

By Christie Abagon , Dec 11, 2016 04:07 PM EST

Do you live in an area where air pollution is high? You may want to think twice about doing some exercise.  Recent study, which was presented at the EuroEcho-Imaging annual meeting in Leipzig, Germany, shows that running or cycling in cities like London increases the chances of heart failure because of the amount of polluted air breathed in. 

Polluted Areas Make The Lungs Work Harder

A study conducted by Brussels University Hospital researchers revealed that air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs.  Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at the University Hospital in Belgium, said: "This is the first human study to report an influence of air pollution on pulmonary vascular function."

Particulate matter (PM) - or coarse dust particles which get into the lungs - are used to measure air pollution.  In London, about 3,000 deaths every year are attributed to particulate matter in the air.  World Health Organization previously recommended that pollution levels should not exceed 2.5 micrometers in particulate matter, however, major cities in the whole world often exceed this rating.

According to Tyrone Times, exercising in highly polluted areas make the lungs work harder, narrowing the blood vessels, which may eventually lead to heart failure.  "This is a major public health issue for people living in polluted urban areas where exercise could damage the lungs and potentially lead to decompensated heart failure," Argacha said. 

'Limit Physical Activities During Heavy Air Pollution'

For this study, researchers looked at 16,000 people who had been admitted to Belgium hospitals from 2009 and 2013, and who had echocardiogram taken to show the movement of blood through the heart, said The Telegraph.  The results show that patients had worse blood circulation on days where pollution was high. 

"Our dual approach provides original data on the impact of air pollution on the pulmonary circulation.  Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution. No strong evidence exists on effectiveness of face masks to eliminate or reduce particle exposure," Argacha concluded. 

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