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Auto exhaust linked to atherosclerosis

This is Science Today. An international team of researchers have found that particulates from auto exhaust can lead to the thickening of artery walls, or atherosclerosis, which may increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Michael Jerrett, an associate professor of environmental health studies at the University of California, Berkeley, was co-author of the study.

Jerrett:           This is the first study where we've been able to examine whether the change or the progression and a marker of atherosclerosis is associated with air pollution. And it fills an important gap because we know that many of the short-term studies show that there are changes in blood pressure, there are heart rate variability changes, but we haven't really been able to make that connection through a very solid, underlying physiopathological mechanism like atherosclerosis.

Narrator:       For about three years, the researchers regularly measured the artery wall thickness of over a thousand people living near freeways in Southern California. Study participants who lived a little over 300 feet from a highway experienced more than twice the average progression of artery wall thickness. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.