Plastic Particles in Carotid Plaques Linked to CV Events

The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on March 7, 2024.
This is the first study to show plastic particles are present in atheroma plaques, but the most important finding is that this was related to a four times higher risk for cardiovascular events, study co-author Antonio Ceriello. 
The trial involved 304 patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy for asymptomatic carotid artery disease, whose excised plaque specimens were analyzed for the presence of microplastics and nanoplastics. The excised carotid plaque specimens were analyzed for the presence of microplastics and nanoplastics with the use of pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, stable isotope analysis, and electron microscopy.
Polyethylene was detected in carotid artery plaque of 150 patients (58.4%); 31 patients (12.1%) also had measurable amounts of polyvinyl chloride. Electron microscopy revealed visible, jagged-edged foreign particles among plaque macrophages and scattered in the external debris. Radiographic examination showed that some of these particles included chlorine. After a mean follow-up of 34 months, patients in whom microplastics and nanoplastics were detected within the atheroma had a 4.5 times higher risk for the composite endpoint of all cause death, myocardial infarction, or stroke than those in whom these substances were not detected (hazard ratio, 4.53; 95% CI, 2.00-10.27; P < 0.001).

"I believe we have demonstrated that plastics are a new risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” co-author Antonio Ceriello added. And while plastics may have made our lives easier in many respects, it appears that the price we are paying for that is a shortening of our lives. That is not a good balance."

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