Long-term effects of air pollution on ankle-brachial index


•    Chronic exposure to air pollution increased the risk of atherosclerosis.
•    Chronic exposure to air pollution increased the risk of arterial stiffness.
•    Relationship between air pollution and ankle-brachial index was non-monotonic.
•    Physically inactive, hypertensive, or non-diabetic individuals were more susceptible to air pollution effects.



Ankle-brachial index (ABI) has been linked to the risk of cardiovascular events. However, the association between long-term exposure to air pollution and abnormal ABI has not been fully investigated.


This cross-sectional study involved 4544 participants from the KORA Study (2004–2008) in the region of Augsburg, Germany. Participants’ residential annual mean concentrations of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were predicted with land-use regression models, and the traffic information was collected from geographic information systems. We applied multinomial logistic regression models to assess the effects of air pollution on the prevalence of low and high ABI, and quantile regression models to explore the non-monotonic relationship between air pollution and ABI. We also examined effect modification by individual characteristics.


Long-term exposure to PM with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm (PM10) and ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of low ABI, with the respective odds ratios (ORs) of 1.82 (95%CI: 1.11–2.97) and 1.59 (95%CI: 1.01–2.51) for a 5th to 95th percentile increment in pollutants. Positive associations with the prevalence of high ABI were observed for PM (e.g., PM10: OR = 1.63, 95%CI: 1.07–2.50) and NO2(OR = 1.84, 95%CI: 1.15–2.94). Quantile regression analyses revealed similar non-monotonic results. The effects of air pollution on having abnormal ABI were stronger in physically inactive, hypertensive, or non-diabetic participants.


Long-term exposure to PM and NO2 was associated with a higher prevalence of both low and high ABI, indicating the adverse effects of air pollution on atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness in the lower extremities.



By |2018-07-19T23:18:39+00:00July 19th, 2018|

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