Found in the blood, microplastics are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular accidents

Found in the blood, microplastics are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular accidents

While plastic particles are regularly discovered in our organs, a new study suggests that their presence in the blood could be associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular accidents (stroke, heart attack) and death.

Whether we like it or not, we eat, drink and breathe plastic microparticles that have become omnipresent through pollution. Thus, until recently, microplastics have been found in placentas and also in the human heart. But can this presence harm our health? A new study published on March 6 raises several questions about the impact of these particles on heart health.

More strokes when the arterial plaque contains plastic

The Italian study is based on 257 people who underwent surgery to clear blocked blood vessels in the neck. In detail, it is a carotid endarterectomy. This surgical procedure helps reduce the risk of stroke due to stenosis (narrowing) of the carotid artery. During an endarterectomy, the surgeon opens the artery and removes plaque.

It was then this “plaque” that the surgeons analyzed. Using two methods, they found traces of plastic – mostly invisible nanoplastics – in the arterial plaque of 150 patients and no traces of plastic in 107 patients. They then followed these people for three years.

  • During this period, 30 to 20 percent of people wearing plastics had a heart attack, stroke, or died from any cause, compared to eight or about 8 percent of those who had no evidence of plastics ;
  • Researchers also found more signs of inflammation in people with pieces of plastic in their blood vessels.

Researchers point out that inflammation is the body’s response to injury and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Thus, the study suggests that the presence of plastics could have a link with future cardiac events.

I hope that the alarming message of our study will raise awareness among citizens, especially governments, of the importance of the health of our planet.” said Dr. Raffaele Marfella who led the study.

A limited study, but which should alert us

However, the Italian study has weaknesses and does not allow a definitive conclusion to be drawn. First of all because of its too small size, but above all because of the nature of the participants. That’s because the study only looked at people with narrowed arteries, who were already at risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Patients found to have traces of plastics suffered more from heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol than patients without plastics, but they were most often men and smokers. Even if the results obtained are statistically significant, this study must be reproduced on larger populations to confirm or refute this link.

However, the presence of plastic is absolutely not natural in the human body, this first test can alert us to the harmful consequences of this pollution and the need to continue studies to evaluate them.