Friday, April 06, 2012

Air Pollution Is Bad For The Heart!

In general, air pollution is any substance that is introduced into the atmosphere with harmful effects on living things and the environment. Air pollution can be visible or invisible, and it does contribute to global warming.

According to a French study, breathing in dirty air might increase the likelihood of getting a heart attack a few days afterwards. Researchers from the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center reported on February 14, 2012 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ that heart attacks were slightly more common at high levels of every main pollutant except ozone.

The researchers analyzed 34 studies comparing the risk of suffering a heart attack (or myocardial infarction) at different levels of inhaling industrial and traffic-related air pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and very small soot-like particles. The number of people involved in the research ranged from about 400 to more than 300,000, with heart attacks confirmed in hospital records and disease and death registries.

For most of the pollutants, an increase in concentration of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air was linked to between 1 and 3 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack in the next week. With the exception of ozone, all the main air pollutants were significantly linked to a near-term raise in heart attack risk.

When people breath in polluted air, small particles can reach the tiny sacs in the lungs and be carried in the bloodstream to the heart. The pollutants might also lower blood vessels’ expansion and contraction abilities for keeping blood pressure constant. In fact, growing evidence has highlighted the link between high-pollution days and higher risk of suffering a stroke.

While the relative risks of air pollution are rather low comparing to traditional risk factors like smoking, hypertension or diabetes, everybody is exposed to air pollution in industrialized nations almost on a daily basis and hence even small effects can add up.

Air pollution is particularly harmful for people with pre-existing heart disease, so these people should minimize exposure to pollutants as far as possible.

1 comment:

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