Issue: 2009 > April > review

Air pollution as noxious environmental factor in the development of cardiovascular disease

H.C. Hassing, Th.B. Twickler, J.J.P. Kastelein, M.J.M. Cramer, F.R. Cassee


A strong epidemiological association has been revealed
between air pollution and the occurrence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Deleterious consequences of such pollution, including myocardial infarction and coronary ischaemia, have occurred after both acute as well as chronic exposure to air pollution. The causal pathophysiological mechanisms through which these effects occur have not been identified
but potential pathways include endothelial dysfunction
and systemic reactions such as inflammation and oxidative stress. Because of increasing urbanisation and associated anthropogenic activities, air pollution is considered an important topic in public health and it remains challenging to translate these epidemiological observations into clinical consequences and guidelines. Nevertheless, for the high cardiovascular risk population, air pollution might have direct clinical relevance. In the future, more knowledge is required about the absolute risk of air pollution in specific high-risk populations and the pathophysiological
mechanisms behind this relationship.