Plastics in the blood increases risk of stroke and heart disease

Wake-up call: Does Plastic Consumption Increase the Risk of Heart Diseases?

More and more studies are raising the alarm of the risk of consuming drinks and food out of plastic containers. Does microplastics increase the risk of heart disease? Is it worth the risk? What can we do to reduce the risk?

A recent study conducted by researchers in Italy has found a substantially raised risk of stroke, heart attack, and earlier death in people whose blood vessels were contaminated with microscopic plastics. The scientists examined fatty plaques removed from the blood vessels of patients with arterial disease and found that more than half had deposits contaminated with tiny particles of polyethylene (PET plastics) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). 

Microplastics in the blood vessels increase risk of stroke by over 4x

The study found that those whose plaques contained microplastics or nanoplastics were nearly five times more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, or death from any cause over the following 34 months, compared with those whose plaques were free from plastic contamination. This indicates that people who are more exposed to the pollution may be at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases.

The study states that microplastics could dramatically impact cardiovascular health if confirmed because we are defenseless against plastic pollution. The only defense we have available today is prevention by reducing plastic production.

The doctors followed 257 of the patients for an average of 34 months after they had carotid plaques removed. Those who had plastic particles in their plaques were 4.5 times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack, or to die from any cause, than those whose plaques were free from plastic pollution.

Microplastics reduces efficiency of cariovascular treatments

The discovery of plastics in the plaques is “surprising” and the likely effect on cardiovascular health “worrisome”. The findings may explain what doctors call “residual cardiovascular risk”, where 20%-30% of patients who have been treated for common risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, still go on to have heart attacks and strokes.

Further work is needed to confirm whether plastic pollution plays a role in strokes and heart attacks. 

Conclusion

Is it worth the risk of consuming bottled water and other drinks from plastic containers? Maybe it's time to rethink our personal consumption of plastics? 

What can you do?
  • Stop consuming bottled water
  • Avoid food with plastic packaging such as yogurt, ketchup, fish, etc.
  • Don't buy food for home delivery with plastic packaging and avoid reheating 
  • Use glass or paper packaging whenever possible
  • Use a water filter that removes microplastics from your tap water

To avoid single use plastic entirely is almost impossible but you can reduce exposure by 90% or more by avoiding bottled water and other daily consumption goods with plastic packaging.

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