Exposure to ambient air pollution is strongly associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Little is known about the influence of air pollutants on cardiac structure and function. We aim to investigate the relationship between chronic past exposure to traffic-related pollutants and the cardiac chamber volume, ejection fraction, and left ventricular remodeling patterns after accounting for potential confounders.
Exposure to ambient air pollutants including particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide was estimated from the Land Use Regression models for the years between 2005 and 2010. Cardiac parameters were measured from cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging studies of 3920 individuals free from pre-existing cardiovascular disease in the UK Biobank population study. The median (interquartile range) duration between the year of exposure estimate and the imaging visit was 5.2 (0.6) years. We fitted multivariable linear regression models to investigate the relationship between cardiac parameters and traffic-related pollutants after adjusting for various confounders.
The studied cohort was 62±7 years old, and 46% were men. In fully adjusted models, particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 µm concentration was significantly associated with larger left ventricular end-diastolic volume and end-systolic volume (effect size = 0.82%, 95% CI, 0.09–1.55%, P=0.027; and effect size = 1.28%, 95% CI, 0.15–2.43%, P=0.027, respectively, per interquartile range increment in particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 µm) and right ventricular end-diastolic volume (effect size = 0.85%, 95% CI, 0.12–1.58%, P=0.023, per interquartile range increment in particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 µm). Likewise, higher nitrogen dioxide concentration was associated with larger biventricular volume. Distance from the major roads was the only metric associated with lower left ventricular mass (effect size = -0.74%, 95% CI, -1.3% to -0.18%, P=0.01, per interquartile range increment). Neither left and right atrial phenotypes nor left ventricular geometric remodeling patterns were influenced by the ambient pollutants.
In a large asymptomatic population with no prevalent cardiovascular disease, higher past exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 µm and nitrogen dioxide was associated with cardiac ventricular dilatation, a marker of adverse remodeling that often precedes heart failure development.