Industrial workers exposed to asbestos now have additional health concerns to worry about beyond mesothelioma and lung cancer.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal shows a significant link between asbestos exposure and heart disease and strokes.
Researchers have long known that asbestos was linked to respiratory diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and others, but not cardiovascular disease. Some believe this latest study may be one piece of growing evidence that links a dangerous substance with an increasing number of diseases.
A Deeper Look into the Results
The report, published in April, discussed the mortality of 98,912 asbestos workers and their respective diseases. The study period was conducted from 1971 to 2005. The results are surprising, given little discussion of such a link in previous studies.
There were 15,557 deaths in the studied group that were attributed to all causes. Ischemic heart disease (IHD), a form of cardiovascular disease, accounted for 4,185 deaths, while Cerebrovascular, more commonly known as a stroke, accounted for 1,053 fatalities.
These figures represent significantly higher occurrences among asbestos workers when compared to expected averages. According to the study, there was a “statistically significant excess mortality” of both strokes and heart diseases among men and women alike.
The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for strokes was 1.63 in men, 2.04 in women. The SMR for ischemic heart disease was 1.39 for men and 1.89 for women.
The study further stated that the duration of asbestos exposure was statistically significant for IHD.
Authors of the report include Anne-Helen Harding, Andrew Darnton and John Osman. Within the official conclusion of the report, they stated that the results demonstrate occupational asbestos exposure was associated with the development of strokes and heart diseases deaths in the cases of workers included in the study.
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Reducing the Risk of Asbestos-Related Conditions
For asbestos workers and those in related occupations, hope is not lost. Certain actions can be taken to mitigate increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
Here are a few tips that can help you reduce the risk of these health conditions:
- Eliminate current or future asbestos exposure
- Inform your doctor of possible asbestos exposure in your past and have the appropriate tests conducted regularly
- Exercise regularly, keep a healthy/balanced diet and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle