Coarse particles and heart rate variability among older adults with coronary artery disease in the Coachella Valley, California

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Aug;114(8):1215-20. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8856.


Alterations in cardiac autonomic control, assessed by changes in heart rate variability (HRV), provide one plausible mechanistic explanation for consistent associations between exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) and increased risks of cardiovascular mortality. Decreased HRV has been linked with exposures to PM10 (PM with aerodynamic diameter<or=10 microm) and with fine particles (PM with aerodynamic diameter<or=2.5 microm) originating primarily from combustion sources. However, little is known about the relationship between HRV and coarse particles [PM with aerodynamic diameter 10-2.5 microm (PM10-2.5)], which typically result from entrainment of dust and soil or from mechanical abrasive processes in industry and transportation. We measured several HRV variables in 19 nonsmoking older adults with coronary artery disease residing in the Coachella Valley, California, a desert resort and retirement area in which ambient PM10 consists predominantly of PM10-2.5. Study subjects wore Holter monitors for 24 hr once per week for up to 12 weeks during spring 2000. Pollutant concentrations were assessed at nearby fixed-site monitors. We used mixed models that controlled for individual-specific effects to examine relationships between air pollutants and several HRV metrics. Decrements in several measures of HRV were consistently associated with both PM10 and PM10-2.5; however, there was little relationship of HRV variables with PM2.5 concentrations. The magnitude of the associations (approximately 1-4% decrease in HRV per 10-microg/m3 increase in PM10 or PM10-2.5) was comparable with those observed in several other studies of PM. Elevated levels of ambient PM10-2.5 may adversely affect HRV in older subjects with coronary artery disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electrocardiography
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Particle Size
  • Respiratory Function Tests