Obese people and those suffering heart disease, or diabetes should stay indoors during rush hour because of traffic fumes, doctors warn.Pollution not only aggravates existing conditions but has been found to contribute to the cause of these diseases, they said.This is because air pollution exacerbates the development of high blood pressure and impaired insulin sensitivity, which are both risk factors for obesity and diabetes.They also recommended people with asthma, infants and the elderly should avoid pollution hotspots.Doctors should start routinely advising people in these at-risk groups to avoid pollution, they said.
The experts from the European Society of Cardiology also called for a decrease in the use of fossil fuels.
Professor Robert Storey, from Sheffield University, said: ‘More than three million deaths worldwide are caused by air pollution each year.
‘Air pollution ranks ninth among the modifiable disease risk factors, ahead of low physical activity, high sodium diet, high cholesterol and drug use.’
There is now ‘ample’ evidence air pollution is associated with long term illness and death from cardiovascular diseases, he said.
He added: ‘It not only makes existing heart conditions worse but also contributes to development of the disease.
‘Avoiding air pollution where possible may help to reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiologists should incorporate this information into lifestyle advice for their patients.
He said: ‘We also need to increase pressure on policy makers to reduce levels of air pollution.
‘Air pollution should be considered one of the major modifiable risk factors to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.
‘Individuals, especially those with or at risk of cardiovascular disease, can take measures to reduce their exposure and doctors should include these in lifestyle advice.
HOW TO AVOID POLLUTION
People with obesity, diabetes and heart disease should stay at home during rush hour to avoid traffic fumes, doctors have warned.
This advice extends to asthmatics, infants and the elderly.
People should avoid walking and cycling along busy roads, exercise in parks away from traffic and avoid busy times.
The recommendations came from doctors from the European Society of Cardiology.
To avoid pollution from outdoors seeping indoors, they recommended people could invest in ventilation systems with filtration for their homes.
They also called on policymakers to reduce levels of air pollution, and back this up with legislation.
‘Policy makers urgently need to reduce levels of air pollution and this should be backed up by legislation.’
A third of Europeans who live in urban areas are exposed to air pollution levels above European Union standards, the experts warned.
But the World Health Organisation, who use more stringent criteria to calculate the number of people affected by pollution, say nearly nine out of 10 Europeans are being exposed to a level of pollution that damages health.
Infants, the elderly and people with cardio-respiratory disorders should avoid walking and cycling along busy roads, exercise in parks away from traffic and avoid busy times.
Those at risk should also ensure they always have their medication with them.
But outdoor air pollution seeping into homes is still a problem, they warned.
Most exposure typically occurs indoors, so experts recommend ventilation systems with filtration for homes in high pollution areas.
Professor Storey added: ‘Policy makers have an important role to reduce outdoor pollution in order to limit indoor pollution where much of the exposure occurs.
‘Apart from reducing their personal contributions to outdoor pollution, there is not much that individuals can do about this unless they invest in systems to filter the air they breathe indoors.
‘Moving away from the use of fossil fuels for energy production will result in major benefits to human health, both from reduced exposure to air pollution and from mitigation of climate change.’
The paper was published in the European Heart Journal.