Friday, July 31, 2015

Is There A Link Between Wildfire And Heart Disease?

A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation occurring in the countryside area. Sometime, it is also called forest fire, bush fire or brush fire. It differs from other kinds of fire by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, and its potential to alter the direction unexpectedly. 

Wildfires in Australia are a common occurrence because of the generally hot and dry climate. They can happen during all times of the year though mostly throughout the hotter months of summer and spring. In the United States, there are typically between 60,000 and 80,000 wildfires that occur each year, burning 3 million to 10 million acres (12,000 to 40,000 square kilometers) of land depending on the year.

Inhalation of smoke from a wildfire could pose some health risks. As reported by Australian researchers, air pollution from wildfire might trigger heart attack, cardiac arrest or other types of heart disease. The finer particulate matter, which is presented in extremely high concentration in wildfire, is small and easily inhaled making it harmful for the human body.

Smoke wildfires has long been linked to respiratory problems such as asthma. While some previous studies had already associated PM 2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller) with inflammation and heart disease, the evidence of the relationship between wildfire smoke exposure and heart disease has been inconsistent. 

Due to the climate, vegetation and protracted droughts, Victoria is particularly vulnerable to wildfires. In December 2006 and January 2007, Victoria experienced a long-running series of wildfires that burned about one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of land with smoke reaching cities situated far away from the source fires.

Using the health data obtained during the period of December 2006 to January 2007, researchers from Monash University and associates examined the relationship between out‐of‐hospital cardiac arrests, ischemic heart disease, heart attack, and angina (hospital admissions and emergency department attendance) and PM2.5 concentrations.

The findings, which were published July 15, 2015 in the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’, reported that there were 457 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 2,106 emergency department visits and 3,274 hospital admissions for coronary artery disease during the fire period.

After taking into account of temperature and relative humidity, the researchers also found that as the concentration of fine particulates in the air increased over about a two-day period, the risk for cardiac arrest among men and people over age of 65 raised. The risk for emergency department visits due to coronary artery disease also rose, particularly among women.

During wildfire events, general pollution is advised to stay indoors, maintain medication, and if they are worried at any stage due to a health condition, they should seek help immediately. Taking note that elderly or people with preexisting conditions are at the highest risk.

No comments:

Post a Comment