For most of us, heading outside for some fresh air and enjoying an afternoon walk or bike ride may seem like a healthy thing to do. Unfortunately, if you live city where the air is polluted, the air you’re breathing could be hurting your health.
That’s according to results of a new study, conducted by Ohio State University Medical Center, which showed a direct link between air pollution and high blood pressure, or hypertension.
In the study, cardiovascular researchers exposed rats to levels of airborne pollutants inside chambers. The animals breathed matter equivalent to what people inhale every day. In some cases, the scientists noted the levels were actually far below the actual pollution levels in some parts of the U.S. and in many developing countries such as China and India. Over a ten week period, the blood pressure of the test animals spiked upwards.
“We now have even more compelling evidence of the strong relationship between air pollution and cardiovascular disease,” Sanjay Rajagopalan, section director of vascular medicine at Ohio State’s Medical Center and co-author of the study, stated in an announcement to the media. “Recent observational studies in humans suggest that within hours to days following exposure, blood pressure increases.”
Sadly, according to the World Health Organization, over three million premature deaths each year are caused by air pollution. Some of the most frequently found pollutants in the air we breathe are; ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Some of the highest pollutants are the result of car exhaust, power plants and industrial emissions. In the press statement, Rajagopalan said his team’s research could provide “guidance for the EPA to change pre-existing stringent standards in the effort to reduce air pollution.”
How to Protect Yourself
We all know staying inside all of the time isn’t an option, and being outdoors soaking up the sunshine is a vital part of maintaining good health. So what should you do to protect yourself?
You can take some control over the air you breathe indoors by reducing the sources of air pollution in your home. Try to avoid the use of chemical cleaners and air fresheners as much as possible, use air filters if needed, and make sure heat and air conditioning filters are cleaned frequently.
If you have to head outdoors on days when the pollutants levels are high (you can check daily air quality levels in your area here ), the following recommendations can help safeguard you from the pollutants in the air:
- When pollution is heavy, be sure to drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic) to keep your respiratory tract moist.
- Avoid being outside during the time of day when the highest levels of smog and pollution are more likely to occur. They are typically highest during the midday and afternoon.
- Try to exercise when the air is cleaner. When you exercise (or work strenuously), you draw air more deeply into your lungs, and therefore risk more damage from air pollution. To protect yourself and get the numerous health benefits of exercise, avoid exercising near congested streets and during rush-hour traffic.
In addition, specific vitamins may help protect your health from the effects of bad air. Previous research at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine found that vitamins A and C benefited people with asthma who were sensitive to air pollutants and a recent study by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found the nutrients folate, vitamins B6 and B12 help guard the heart from the impact of particulate air pollution.
Of course this is just one of many factors which can contribute to high blood pressure. If you are concerned about high blood pressure or hypertension, there are natural options available that can help you maintain your blood pressure levels. Healthy Choice Blood Pressure Formula is an all-natural, scientifically developed combination of herbs and vitamins to help maintain optimum blood pressure.