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Heart risk can triple in traffic

Posted - Oct. 21, 2004 at 10:20 a.m.



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Being stuck in traffic almost triples the risk of having a heart attack within an hour, says a new study.

While past research has linked exposure to traffic in urban areas to the risk for heart disease, "we found that the time subjects spent in cars, on public transportation, motorcycles or bicycles was consistently linked with an increase in risk for heart attacks," said Annette Peters, an epidemiologist at the National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, Germany.

Peters' team reports its findings today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"It doesn't come as any big surprise that exposure to traffic is a culprit in heart attacks, but the magnitude of the risk was bigger than even a New Yorker like myself might have expected," said Dr. Harvey Hecht, director of preventive cardiology at Beth Israel Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

Peters and colleagues used data from nearly 700 heart attack survivors in southern Germany interviewed at bedside about what they had been doing in the four days before they suffered an attack. Scripps Howard

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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