Air pollution may scar heart in adults with kidney disease, hypertension: Study

Delhi's air quality crossed the 'hazardous' mark on Diwali evening, and worsened the day after.

Air pollution exposure has been found associated with rising levels of Galectin 3, a marker of scarring in the heart.

The firecrackers are still on, and many residents of the Delhi-NCR region are gasping for breath a day after Diwali.

A study has just given out a warning for those suffering from hypertension and kidney disease. Such people are more vulnerable to air pollution, and it may have detrimental effects on their heart.

The researchers in the study, according to a PTI report, noted that in adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in addition to hypertension, air pollution exposure was associated with rising levels of Galectin 3, a marker of scarring in the heart.

The findings were presented online at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2021 on Thursday.


Around 1 am on Friday, Delhi’s air quality index touched an alarming 1645, with PM2.5 pollution levels shooting to 774.69 at 3 am.

“Air pollution may be directly linked to the development of myocardial fibrosis in individuals with CKD,” lead author Hafsa Tariq, from Case Western Reserve University in the US, was quoted as saying.

Myocardial fibrosis arises when a type of cell in the heart called fibroblasts to produce collagenous scar tissue, and can lead to heart failure and death. “Efforts to limit air pollution could have a beneficial effect on lowering subclinical cardiovascular disease in CKD,” Tariq added.

Satellite-derived measurements of smaller particulate matter, PM2.5, were linked with participants in the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial.

A total of 1,019 participants with available Galectin 3 levels at study baseline and 24 months follow-up were included in these analyses. The researchers adjusted for age, sex, race and body mass index, among many other factors to assess the association between air pollution and Galectin 3 at baseline and longitudinal change at two years.

The study concluded that air pollution may be associated with worsening myocardial fibrosis as evidenced by increasing levels of Galectin 3 in individuals with pre-existing CKD.

Also read: Diwali and stubble burning leave north Indians out of breath