That might get your heart racing.
Microplastics, commonly found in food packaging and paint, were first discovered in the human heart.
The startling find was made by a team of scientists at Beijing Anzhen Hospital in China, who were analyzing heart tissue from 15 patients who had undergone cardiovascular surgery. according to the study published by the American Chemical Society.
Microplastics that are less than 5 millimeters wide – about the size of a pencil eraser – can enter the human body through the mouth, nose and other body cavities.
Doctors Kun Hua, Xiubin Yang and their team wanted to investigate whether these particles can get into people’s cardiovascular systems through indirect and direct exposure, according to a statement on the study.
The researchers collected and analyzed the patients’ heart tissue and blood samples from half of the participants.
They “discovered tens of thousands of individual microplastic pieces” in most tissue samples and found plastic samples in all blood samples.
Nine types of plastic have been found in five types of heart tissue. The study also found evidence that subjects were unintentionally given microplastics during surgeries.
Among the plastics found in three different parts of the heart was poly(methyl methacrylate), a plastic commonly used as a shatterproof alternative to glass. These particles, the researchers say, “cannot be attributed to accidental exposure during surgery.”
Also found were polyethylene terephthalate, which is used in clothing and food containers, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is widely used in window frames, drainpipes, paint, and more.
“The detection of in vivo MPs [microplastics] is alarming and more studies are needed to investigate how the MPs get into heart tissue and what their possible effects are [microplastics] on long-term prognosis after cardiac surgery,” the research team concluded.
Last year, a study found that people eat about 5 grams of small plastic particles every week, which is about the weight of your credit card.
The plastic particles enter the human food chain via packaging waste and enter the body via sea salt, seafood and even drinking water, scientists from the Medical University of Vienna found out.
The changes in the gastrointestinal tract caused by microplastics are associated with metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and chronic liver disease.