Associations between air pollution and multimorbidity in the UK Biobank: A cross-sectional study

Multimorbidity is defined as having two or more physical or mental health conditions and affects 27 per cent of adults in UK primary care. Using data from the UK Biobank linked with air pollution data, researchers sought to determine whether air pollution was associated with multimorbidity. The study found that participants exposed to higher concentrations (>10µg/m3) of fine particulate matter had a 21% increased risk of two or more co-occurring conditions compared to those exposed to concentrations <10µg/m3. Those exposed to >30µg/m3 of NO2 had a 20% increased risk of having two or more co- occurring conditions compared to those participants that were exposed to concentrations of NO2 <20µg/m3. Moreover, among those with multiple conditions, increased exposure to both PM2.5 and NO2 was linked to a greater severity of the co-occurring conditions. The researchers also identified eleven common patterns of multimorbidity. Strongest links were primarily between air pollution and conditions relating to the respiratory system (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as well as the cardiovascular system (atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, heart failure), and neurological and common mental conditions (stroke, substance abuse, depression, anxiety).


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