Aims Episodes of increased air pollution are associated with increases in hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease. Even modest acute phase responses are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. The study investigates whether induction of an acute phase response by exposure to air pollution may contribute to cardiovascular pathology.
Methods and Results A prospective cohort study based on a survey in 1984/85 with a 3-year follow-up was conducted in 631 randomly selected men aged 45 to 64 years free of cardiovascular disease at entry 1984/85. Serum C-reactive protein concentrations were determined by a high sensitivity immunoradiometric assay. C-reactive protein concentration was increased in association with the 1985 air pollution episode. In multivariate analyses, elevated concentrations were independently associated with concentrations of total suspended particles and the sulphur dioxide episode. At ambient concentrations of pollution, as noted during the 1985 air pollution episode, the odds of observing C-reactive protein concentrations above 5·7mg.l−1(>90th percentile) tripled, and increases of 26μg.m−3total suspended particles (mean of 5 days) raised the odds of C-reactive protein levels 50% above the 90th percentile.
Conclusions Exposure to current levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere elicits an acute phase response in randomly selected healthy middle-aged men, which may contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk caused by air pollution.