Long- and short-term air pollution exposure and measures of arterial stiffness in the Framingham Heart Study

Petter L.S. Ljungman, Wenyuan Li, Mary B. Rice, Elissa H. Wilker, Joel Schwartz, Diane R. Gold, Petros Koutrakis, Emelia J. Benjamin, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Gary F. Mitchell, Naomi M. Hamburg, Murray A. Mittleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of air pollution exposure and arterial stiffness have reported inconsistent results and large studies employing the reference standard of arterial stiffness, carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (CFPWV), have not been conducted. Aim: To study long-term exposure to ambient fine particles (PM2.5), proximity to roadway, and short-term air pollution exposures in relation to multiple measures of arterial stiffness in the Framingham Heart Study. Methods: We assessed central arterial stiffness using CFPWV, forward pressure wave amplitude, mean arterial pressure and augmentation index. We investigated long-and short-term air pollution exposure associations with arterial stiffness with linear regressions using long-term residential PM2.5 (2003 average from a spatiotemporal model using satellite data) and proximity to roadway in addition to short-term averages of PM2.5, black carbon, particle number, sulfate, nitrogen oxides, and ozone from stationary monitors. Results: We examined 5842 participants (mean age 51 ± 16, 54% women). Living closer to a major roadway was associated with higher arterial stiffness (0.11 m/s higher CFPWV [95% CI: 0.01, 0.22] living <50 m vs 400 ≤ 1000 m). We did not observe association between arterial stiffness measures and long-term PM2.5 or short-term levels of PM2.5, particle number, sulfate or ozone. Higher levels of black carbon and nitrogen oxides in the previous days were unexpectedly associated with lower arterial stiffness. Conclusions: Long-term exposure to PM2.5 was not associated with arterial stiffness but positive associations with living close to a major road may suggest that pollutant mixtures very nearby major roads, rather than PM2.5, may affect arterial stiffness. Furthermore, short-term air pollution exposures were not associated with higher arterial stiffness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Applanation tonometry
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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