HomeEconomyStudy Finds Microplastics in Arterial Plaque, Raises Health Concerns

Study Finds Microplastics in Arterial Plaque, Raises Health Concerns

Plastics have become ubiquitous, with microscopic particles now found in various organs of the human body, including the placenta. Given their ability to infiltrate tissues easily, understanding the potential health risks posed by microplastics is crucial.

Researchers have been investigating the effects of microplastics on miniaturized organ models and mice to gauge their impact on the human body. However, the concentrations used in these studies may not reflect real-world exposure, and human studies are limited.

A recent small-scale study in Italy examined fatty deposits removed during artery-clearing surgery from patients who had undergone carotid endarterectomy. This procedure reduces the risk of strokes by removing plaques from narrowed arteries.

Led by Raffaele Marfella from the University of Campania in Naples, the study followed 257 patients for 34 months. Nearly 60 percent of them had detectable amounts of polyethylene, and 12 percent had polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in their fatty plaques.

Both PVC and polyethylene are commonly used plastics found in various products. Concerns arise from previous findings of microplastics in the bloodstream, with lab studies suggesting they could trigger inflammation and oxidative stress in heart cells.

Patients with microplastics in their plaques were twice as likely to experience strokes, heart attacks, or death compared to those without detectable microplastics after 34 months.

Microplastics were identified using advanced techniques, including pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and stable isotopes analysis. Plastic fragments were observed within immune cells and fatty plaques, alongside increased levels of inflammatory markers.

While the study suggests an association between microplastics and cardiovascular risks, it cannot definitively conclude causation. Other factors like smoking and air pollution were not fully considered.

The surge in plastic production in recent years raises urgent questions about reducing exposure and understanding its impact on health. Further research is needed to explore the link between microplastics and cardiovascular disease in greater detail.

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