Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and stroke are the highest and third highest causes of death, respectively, in the whole United States. It is well established that both long- and short-term exposure to particulate air pollution (particulate matter with diameters <2.5 μm [PM2.5]) increases the risks of both CVD and stroke mortality.
Methods and results: We combined county-level data for CVD and stroke mortality, and prevalence of hypertension and obesity, with spatial patterns of PM2.5 and ozone in a cross-sectional ecological study. We found significant positive associations between both CVD (β=15.4, P<0.001) and stroke (β=2.7, P<0.001) mortality with PM2.5. Ozone had significant link with just CVD (β=1372.1, P<0.001). Once poverty, ethnicity, and education were taken into account, there were still significant positive associations between PM2.5 and both CVD (β=1.2, P<0.001) and stroke (β=1.1, P<0.001) mortality. Moreover, the association between CVD and ozone remained after adjustment for these factors (β=21.8, P<0.001). PM2.5 and ozone were independent risk factors. The impact of PM2.5 on CVD and stroke mortality was strongly dependent on the prevalence of obesity. Hypertension partially mediated the associations of PM2.5 and mortality from CVD and stroke.
Conclusions: There was a spatial association between PM2.5 exposure and the leading causes of death and disability in United States. The effect of PM2.5 was considerably greater in areas where obesity is more prevalent. Hypertension is a possible mediator of the association of PM2.5 and both CVD and stroke.
Keywords: PM2.5; cardiovascular diseases; education; obesity; particulate matter; stroke.
© 2018 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley.