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Welcome To Environmental Cardiology

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There is increasing evidence that pollution, particularly due to the burning of fossil fuels, has significant adverse health effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked death from air pollution as one of the top ten causes of disability. Although drastic reduction in fossil fuel consumption is one remedy for preventing these avoidable deaths, implementing stricter clean air restrictions has been difficult. Hence a greater understanding, leading to more effective interventions and management, is urgently needed. This is particularly imperative for cardiovascular health, which is the leading cause of death in the industrialized world, and for which environmental effects are the least understood.

Current interest in the toxic air pollutants is focused on cancer, asthma, birth defects, and nervous system damage. However, there are abundant experimental and epidemiological data showing that air toxics such as aldehydes, tobacco smoke, butadiene, vinyl chloride, pesticides, solvents, and fine particles, have pronounced effects on cardiovascular function and disease. Cardiovascular diseases affect a large proportion of the human population; consequently, even a small increase in risk could translate into a larger number of deaths than are caused by other diseases such as cancer or asthma.

The susceptibility of the heart and the cardiovascular tissues to environmental pollutants is underscored by the spate of recent studies showing an association between air particulates and cardiovascular deaths. Although the mechanisms by which particulates, environmental tobacco smoke or pollutants affect heart disease are not known, it is likely that long-term mutagenic changes, which are key steps in carcinogenesis, are also relevant to the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. In addition, pulmonary effects of environmental pollutants could indirectly impair cardiovascular health.

Our aim is to understand how environmental pollutants contribute to cardiovascular risk and to delineate the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms by which pollutants exacerbate atherosclerosis, promote thrombosis and increase myocardial ischemic injury. We believe that these studies will contribute towards the development of the new discipline of "Environmental Cardiology."

This group was formed in October 2000, in order to foster collaborative research focused on the Cardiovascular Toxicity of Environmental Pollutants.


We are located on the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center in Louisville, Kentucky

For information:

Tammy Green

Division of Cardiology
University of Louisville
580 South Preston St.
Room 421
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 852-5724
Fax: (502) 852-3663


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