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OBJECTIVES: Epidemiological studies of air pollution on cardiovascular health show associations of cardiac mortality and admissions with exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) at low concentrations. These associations could be causal or NO(2) could be acting as a surrogate measure for another air pollutant, most likely ultrafine particles. No studies of cardiac susceptibility to acute exposure to NO(2) have been undertaken. METHODS: Randomised controlled exposures to NO(2) (400 ppb for 1 h) and air in subjects with coronary heart disease and impaired left ventricular systolic function not taking β adrenoceptor blocking drugs. RESULTS: There were no significant changes in heart rate, blood pressure, leucocyte coping capacity or any heart rate variability measure following NO(2) exposure compared with air. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that NO(2) does not affect heart rate variability at these concentrations (which are high for urban background levels) and in the absence of other pollutants. While a synergistic effect has not been ruled out, these data lend support to the idea that the epidemiological data associating cardiac outcomes with NO(2) are more likely due to an associated pollutant rather than NO(2) itself.

Original publication




Journal article


Occup Environ Med

Publication Date





587 - 591


Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Aged, Air, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coronary Disease, Environmental Exposure, Female, Heart, Heart Rate, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Nitrogen Dioxide, Particle Size, Particulate Matter, Single-Blind Method, Systole, Ventricular Function, Left