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Heart Health

The heart-related hazards of air pollution

March 1, 2022

How does this invisible threat affect your cardiovascular system — and what can you do about it?

windmill as clean energy source alongside smoke stack as pollution-generating energy source

Unless you happen to catch a whiff of diesel exhaust from a bus or truck, chances are you don’t think about air pollution very often. But pollution is an often overlooked yet important contributor to cardiovascular disease, according to a review published Nov. 11, 2021, in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Although the air we breathe is much cleaner today than it was 50 years ago, it’s still contaminated by largely odorless, invisible gases and tiny particles generated by burning fossil fuels. Coalfired power plants, steel mills, and vehicle tailpipes are the main contributors. Smoke from wildfires — especially massive fires like those that have ravaged Western forests in recent years — also add to the burden.

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About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss

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