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Microplastics in artery plaque linked with higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death

You can't see them with the naked eye, but they are highly likely to pose a threat to our health: microplastics. These tiny plastic particles are present everywhere in the environment, including within our bodies. On science platform The Conversation molecular biologist Meiru Wang offers valuable insights into a recent study revealing a concerning association between microplastics found in arterial plaque and heightened risks of heart attack, stroke, and death.

The study, focusing on 257 individuals undergoing surgery for carotid artery disease, found microplastics in the plaque of 150 participants, linking their presence to increased cardiovascular risk. Wang elucidates the significance of this discovery, and delves into the underlying mechanisms that the study reveals.

Growing body of evidence

'However,' Wang states, 'it isn't the first study to show a link between micro- and nanoplastics with poor health. Research suggests some of this harm may be due to the way the plastic particles interact with proteins in the body.'

Malformations in heart, eyes and nervous system

In her own PhD research in chicken embryo's, Wang found that nanoplastics may cause congenital malformations due to the way they interact with a protein called cadherin6B. 'These malformations may affect the embryo’s eyes and neural tube, as well as the heart’s development and function.'

What are the responsible mechanisms?

Wang emphases the urgent need for further research into the mechanisms by which microplastics impact human health. 'It is important we find out how these particles cause harm in the body.

Further reading

Read the whole article from Meiru Wang on The Conversation: Microplastics found in artery plaque linked with higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

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