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Unveiling the Hidden Dangers: Microplastics Inside Us

Wednesday, March 27th 2024 10:00am 3 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

In a revelation that has sent shockwaves through the environmental and health communities, recent findings have illuminated a grim reality: the minuscule plastic fragments pervading our surroundings are not only encircling us but have also made their way inside our bodies. These microplastics, when they amass in our arteries, pose a significant threat, potentially escalating the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and premature mortality.

Microplastics and Cardiovascular Health: A Groundbreaking Study

A pioneering study has brought to light a distressing connection between the pollution caused by microplastics and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, the research showcases that individuals found with microplastics in the plaque blocking their arteries are at a 4.5 times greater risk of facing heart attacks, strokes, or death than those without such pollutants in their arterial plaque.

This Italian research team took under scrutiny 257 patients who underwent surgical procedures to eliminate plaque accumulation from their carotid arteries during 2019 and 2020. Employing advanced chemical analysis methods such as pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, stable isotope analysis, and high-resolution electron microscopy, the researchers meticulously examined the removed plaque for micro and nanoplastics (MNPs).

Astoundingly, over half (58.4%) of the participants had detectable levels of polyethylene in their arterial plaque, with an average concentration reaching 21.7 micrograms per milligram of plaque tissue. Moreover, 12.1% of the study subjects had discernible amounts of polyvinyl chloride—a widely used type of plastic—with an average concentration of 5.2 micrograms per milligram of plaque. The electron microscopy revealed the presence of sharply edged plastic particles intermingled with immune cells and other debris within the plaque deposits.

The most alarming revelation, however, stemmed from monitoring the health outcomes of these patients for nearly three years post-surgery. Those with MNPs in their plaque faced a remarkably higher risk—4.53 times—of undergoing a major adverse cardiovascular event (such as heart attacks, strokes, or death from any cause) compared to their counterparts lacking detectable MNPs in their plaque.

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