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Environ Int. 2012 Nov 1;48:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.06.016. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Long-term exposure to traffic-related PM(10) and decreased heart rate variability: is the association restricted to subjects taking ACE inhibitors?

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Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.



Alterations in heart rate variability (HRV) are a potential link between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and cardiovascular mortality.


We investigated whether long-term exposure to traffic-related PM(10) (TPM(10)) is associated with HRV in older subjects and/or in participants taking specific cardiovascular treatment or with self-reported heart disease.


We included 1607 subjects from the general population aged 50 to 72 years. These participants from the SAPALDIA cohort underwent ambulatory 24-hr electrocardiogram monitoring. Associations of average annual exposure to TPM(10) over 10 years with HRV parameters from time and frequency domains were estimated using multivariable mixed linear models. Effect estimates are expressed as percent changes in geometric means.


HRV was only associated with TPM(10) in participants under ACE inhibitor therapy (N=94). A 1 μg/m(3) increment, approximately equivalent to an interquartile range, in 10 year average TPM(10) was associated with decrements of 14.5% (95% confidence interval (CI), -25.9 to -1.3) in high frequency (HF) power, of 4.5% (-8.2 to -0.5) in the standard deviation of all normal-to-normal RR intervals (SDNN), of 10.6% (-18.5 to -1.9) in total power (TP) and an increase of 9.2% (0.8 to 20.2) in the LF/HF power ratio.


In the absence of an overall effect our results suggest that alterations in HRV, a measure of autonomic control of the cardiac rhythm, may not be a central mechanism by which long-term exposure to TPM(10) increases cardiovascular mortality. Novel evidence on an effect in persons under ACE inhibitor treatment needs to be confirmed in future studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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