Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Air Pollution Could Be a Risk Factor for Heart Disease!

A person, who is exposed to air pollution, could develop cardiovascular (heart disease and stroke). Though the risk is comparatively smaller than those known risk factors like smoking, obesity, or high blood pressure, air pollution is still a public health issues that should not be ignored. This is because there are a large number of people exposing to air pollution over their entire lifetime.

Several epidemiological studies conducted worldwide have found a link between increased risk for cardiovascular disease and short- and long-term exposure to pollution, especially particulate matter. This prompts the American Heart Association (AHA) to issue a statement for healthcare professionals on air pollution and cardiovascular disease in May 2004.

AHA advise people with heart disease, or those with certain cardiovascular risk factors, pulmonary disease and diabetes as well as the elderly to restrict their outdoor activity if the air pollution level is high. The air pollution level is indicated by the daily Air Quality Index monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In Hong Kong, the air pollution raised to 500 on Mar 22, 2010, the highest possible reading on the 23-year-old index, because of the sandstorms in the northern China. The government immediately advises people with heart disease or respiratory problems to avoid staying in heavy traffic over a long period of time.

In fact, the existing guideline issued by the Hong Kong government advise people who have asthma and cardiovascular disease NOT to engage with outdoor activity and physical exercise should the index exceed 100.

It is understood the issuance of such alert would certainly bring inconvenience to the residence in Hong Kong. For instance, parents have to deal with schools cancelling sports days and others might have to change their routine behavior.

According to the Hong Kong’s authority, occasional rain might help lower the pollution index level. However, their long-term plan is to accelerate replacement of old buses, change transit routes and set up low-emission zones to cut pollution. It is expected that old buses will be eliminated from city roads by 2019.

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