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Fine dust can increase risk of hypertension in people with abdominal obesity

Lee Han-soo  Published 2019.04.19  15:28  Updated 2019.04.19 15:28

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Researchers at Seoul National University Hospital have found that fine dust can increase the risk of hypertension in people with abdominal obesity, the hospital said.

From left, Professors Park Jin-ho and Kim Hyun-jin

Continuous exposure to fine dust can result in blood vessel inflammation, which, in turn, can lead to hypertension-related vascular diseases. Also, adipocytes are known to secrete various inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species involved in the accumulation of visceral fat than subcutaneous fat.

The team, led by Professors Park Jin-ho at the hospital and Kim Hyun-jin at the National Cancer Center, measured the internal and subcutaneous abdominal fat cross-sections of 1,417 adult males who underwent abdominal CT scans at the SNUH from 2006 to 2014.

The researchers also surveyed the annual fine dust concentration mean by analyzing the “Air Korea measuring station” near the residence of the patients. As a result, the probability of hypertension, which occurs when a patient's systolic blood pressure is more than 140mmHg or diastolic blood pressure is 90mmHg, increased about 1.3 times when the fine dust concentration increased by about 10μg/㎥.

However, the probability of hypertension for people with abdominal obesity exceeding 200 square centimeters’ cross-sectional area increased about 1.7 times.

There was no increase of hypertension due to fine dust for those who have a cross-sectional area of less than 100cm2, while subcutaneous fat showed no significant effect on the relationship between fine dust and hypertension.

"The combination of fine dust exposure and visceral adipocytes leads to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to increased risk of hypertension," Professor Kim said.

The researchers concluded the study is significant as it is the first of its kind to identify the high risk of hypertension when adults with abdominal visceral fat are exposed continuously to fine dust.

“While people with abdominal obesity are at great risk of suffering from various cardiovascular diseases, exposure to fine dust can aggravate the chances of such illness even further,” Professor Park said. “Efforts should be made to reduce abdominal fat, along with lifestyle habits that minimize exposure to fine dust.

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