Pulmonary vascular disease, environmental pollution, and climate change

26 June 2024

Mona LichtblauLena ReimannLucilla Piccari



Pollution and climate change constitute a combined, grave and pervasive threat to humans and to the life-support systems on which they depend. Evidence shows a strong association between pollution and climate change on cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and pulmonary vascular disease (PVD) is no exception. An increasing number of studies has documented the impact of environmental pollution and extreme temperatures on pulmonary circulation and the right heart, on the severity and outcomes of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (PH), on the incidence of pulmonary embolism, and the prevalence and severity of diseases associated with PH. Furthermore, the downstream consequences of climate change impair health care systems' accessibility, which could pose unique obstacles in the case of PVD patients, who require a complex and sophisticated network of health interventions. Patients, caretakers and health care professionals should thus be included in the design of policies aimed at adaptation to and mitigation of current challenges, and prevention of further climate change. The purpose of this review is to summarize the available evidence concerning the impact of environmental pollution and climate change on the pulmonary circulation, and to propose measures at the individual, healthcare and community levels directed at protecting patients with PVD.

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