Background: Hypertension is a highly prevalent cardiovascular risk factor. It is possible that air pollution, also an established cardiovascular risk factor, may contribute to cardiovascular disease through increasing blood pressure. Previous studies evaluating associations between air pollution and blood pressure have had mixed results.
Methods: We examined the association between long-term (one-year moving average) air pollutant exposures, prevalent hypertension and blood pressure in 4121 older Americans (57+ years) enrolled in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. We estimated exposures to PM2.5 using spatio-temporal models and used logistic regression accounting for repeated measures to evaluate the association between long-term average PM2.5 and prevalence odds of hypertension. We additionally used linear regression to evaluate the associations between air pollutants and systolic, diastolic, mean arterial, and pulse pressures. Health effect models were adjusted for a number of demographic, health and socioeconomic covariates.
Results: An inter-quartile range (3.91 μg/m3) increase in the one-year moving average of PM2.5 was associated with increased: Odds of prevalent hypertension (POR 1.24, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.38), systolic blood pressure (0.93 mm Hg, 95% CI: 0.05, 1.80) and pulse pressure (0.89 mm Hg, 95% CI: 0.21, 1.58). Dose-response relationships were also observed.
Conclusions: PM2.5 was associated with increased odds of prevalent hypertension, and increased systolic pressure and pulse pressure in a cohort of older Americans. These findings add to the growing evidence that air pollution may be an important risk factor for hypertension and perturbations in blood pressure.
Keywords: Air pollution; Blood pressure; Elderly; Hypertension; Pulse pressure.
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