Diesel increases MI and stroke risk

Efforts to cut pollution levels by driving diesel rather than petrol cars could be driving up the UK’s risk of MI and stroke, suggest research findings.

Around 40 per cent of cars in the UK run on diesel because it is seen as a greener fuel, being more effective and allowing engines to last longer, said Dr Andrew Lucking, a cardiologist from the University of Edinburgh.

While observational studies have shown a link between air pollution and heart disease, Dr Lucking’s team has now demonstrated that within two hours of exposure to dilute diesel fumes, the risk of clotting increases, thereby raising the risk of a cardiovascular event.

For the study, 20 healthy men aged 21 to 44 years were separately exposed to diluted diesel fumes or filtered air in a specially created chamber, where they exercised intermittently for one to two hours.

The level of diesel exposure – at 300 mg/m3 – was equivalent to that breathed in by someone stuck in stationary traffic in a city, said Dr Lucking.

Two and six hours after exposure, the participants underwent blood tests for thrombotic potential, delegates at the American Heart Association (AHA) scientific sessions in Orlando, Florida, heard.

Clot formation increased by 19-24 per cent at both two and six hours after diesel exposure, compared with filtered air.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

More details on the Scientific Sessions 2007 website

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