Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asbestos workers have higher risk of heart disease, strokes

Asbestos can cause more than lung diseases;
it can also cause cardiovascular disease and strokes.
When employees are exposed to asbestos at their workplace, they have a much higher risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, according to a new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The research also showed that women are at greater risk than men.

For decades, it has been known that exposure to asbestos can cause serious lung disease like mesothelioma and asbestosis, but the asbestos fibers also act as an inflammatory agent that can lead to heart disease and stroke (inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease before).

The researchers examined the cause of death for almost 100,000 asbestos workers who participated in the Asbestos Workers Survey, and compared them to the numbers expected for the average population.

Many of the men in the survey worked in asbestos removal, while many women were employed in manufacturing.

The researchers found the risk was strongest when the participants also smoked, which is an additional risk for heart attack and stroke.

But even after taking into account of smoking, asbestos workers were still much more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than the general population.

Male asbestos workers were 63% more likely to die of a stroke and 39% more likely to die of heart disease.

Female asbestos workers were 100% more likely to die of a stroke and 89% more likely to die of heart disease.

The risk grew along with the duration of exposure, the researchers found.

Source:  British Medical Journal

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