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Dr K K Aggarwal

Air pollution can raise blood pressure

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Breathing polluted air for even 2 hours can increase blood pressure, potentially raising the risk of cardiovascular disease in those exposed to smog.

In susceptible patients this small increase may actually be able to trigger a heart attack or stroke. In a study, which appeared in the journal Hypertension, researchers tested 83 people as they breathed levels of air pollution similar to those in an urban city near a roadway. The air pollution caused diastolic pressure (lower number in a blood pressure reading) to rise within 2 hours. Blood vessels were impaired for as long as 24 hours. Tests showed that microscopic particles in the air, rather than ozone gases, caused the rise in blood pressure and impaired blood vessel function. If air pollution levels are forecasted to be high, those with heart disease, diabetes or lung disease should avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.

Blood vessels were impaired for as long as 24 hours. Tests showed that microscopic particles in the air, rather than ozone gases, caused the rise in blood pressure and impaired blood vessel function. If air pollution levels are forecasted to be high, those with heart disease, diabetes or lung disease should avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.

Tips from HCFI to control air pollution

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Walk or cycle for short distance commutes or to the neighborhood market. Plan and combine all your errands in one area or close by areas for one trip. Limit driving and make use of carpool.
  2. Use public transport as much as possible for longer distances. If you have to use your vehicle keep it well maintained for efficient functioning with regular servicing to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and get pollution check done as required. Follow speed limits. Avoid buying diesel vehicle.
  3. Avoid burning candles dhoop or incense sticks at home or workplace.
  4. Quit smoking.
  5. Plant more trees. Limit the areas of bare soil by growing grass to reduce the amount of dust. Sprinkle water on exposed soil or construction sites regularly to reduce generation of dust. Wet mop the floors at home or workplace.
  6. Choose a place with least pollution levels when there is a choice.

Environmental Impact on Eye Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Expanding areas of arid land, air pollution and greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation all present potential health hazards to the eyes.

The cornea, eyelid, the sclera and even the lens—are all exposed directly to the environment. Rising temperatures and shifting atmospheric circulation patterns force dry air into regions. Drier air means that more people are likely to suffer from dry eye, a condition in which tears aren’t produced properly or evaporate too quickly. There is no evidence that drier conditions cause dry eye but they can accelerate symptoms in people who are prone to dry eye.

Air pollution has long been linked to respiratory disorders; more recently it’s been shown to play a role in eye disease.

Exposure to wood or charcoal cooking fires—ubiquitous in many developing countries—appears to accelerate the scarring caused by trachoma. Recurrent infections over a lifetime lead to scarring inside of the eyelids, which in turn causes the eyelashes to turn inward and brush against the cornea, eventually resulting in damage that impairs vision.

Ozone depletion can lead to higher levels of UV light exposure, which is a known risk factor for cortical cataract. Chronic exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can alter the orderly arrangement of proteins in the lens of the eye or damage lens epithelium, causing the lens to become cloudy. Wearing a hat can reduce UV exposure by 30%. Sunglasses, even simple plastic lenses that offer full UV protection, can reduce exposure by nearly 100% and should be used judiciously.

Entire community should take note of the severe damage that can be caused to the eyes. It becomes all the more important to note these precautions as Indians tend to be vitamin D deficient.