We've already told you on several occasions (most recently here and here) of the link scientists have discovered between higher emissions and deteriorating cardiovascular health. A new study from researchers at Northwestern University has now shown how air pollution may cause heart attacks and strokes - by triggering the formation of blood clots.
"We now know how the inflammation in the lungs caused by air pollutants leads to death from cardiovascular disease," said Gokhan Mutlu, the study's lead author. He and his colleagues found that tiny air pollution particles - often less than one tenth the width of a human hair in size - helped trigger clotting in the blood of mice. This is due to the pollution-induced secretion of interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, that has been implicated in the formation of blood clots. Gutlu exposed mice to particles of pollution collected by the EPA that were mixed with a saline solution before being injected into their lungs. The mice exhibited a 15-fold increase in the production of interleukin-6 only 24 hours later - a result that seems to go along with other studies that have demonstrated heart attacks being sparked within 24 hours of exposure to air pollution. Those mice in which they had suppressed the lungs' immune cells showed no increase in blood clot formation. "This suggested that interleukin-6 was the driving force," said Mutlu.
The next step will be investigating whether drugs like aspirin can help counteract blood clotting in mice (it's long been known that small amounts of aspirin can help thin the blood).
Via ::Reuters: Air pollution triggers blood clots: study (news website)