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BACKGROUND: Empirical evidence suggests a strong link between exposure to air pollution and heart failure incidence, hospitalizations, and mortality, but the biological basis of this remains unclear. We sought to determine the relationship between differential air pollution levels and changes in cardiac structure and function in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. METHODS AND RESULTS: We undertook a prospective longitudinal observational cohort study of patients in England with dilated cardiomyopathy (enrollment 2009-2015, n = 716, 66% male, 85% Caucasian) and conducted cross sectional analysis at the time of study enrollment. Annual average air pollution exposure estimates for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5) at enrolment were assigned to each residential postcode (on average 12 households). The relationship between air pollution and cardiac morphology was assessed using linear regression modelling. Greater ambient exposure to NO2 was associated with higher indexed left ventricular (LV) mass (4.3 g/m2 increase per interquartile range increase in NO2, 95% confidence interval 1.9-7.0 g/m2) and lower LV ejection fraction (-1.5% decrease per interquartile range increase in NO2, 95% confidence interval -2.7% to -0.2%), independent of age, sex, socioeconomic status, and clinical covariates. The associations were robust to adjustment for smoking status and geographical clustering by postcode area. The effect of air pollution on LV mass was greatest in women. These effects were specific to NO2 exposure. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to air pollution is associated with raised LV mass and lower LV ejection fraction, with the strongest effect in women. Although epidemiological associations between air pollution and heart failure have been established and supported by preclinical studies, our findings provide novel empirical evidence of cardiac remodeling and exposure to air pollution with important clinical and public health implications.

Original publication




Journal article


J card fail

Publication Date





924 - 934


Nitrogen dioxide, cardiomyopathy, heart, heart failure, particulate matter, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Cardiomyopathy, Dilated, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Heart Failure, Humans, Male, Nitrogen Dioxide, Prospective Studies, Ventricular Remodeling