Daily Management Review

A Study Claims that People with Heart Diseases are at Greater Risk Even at Moderate Air Pollution


A Study Claims that People with Heart Diseases are at Greater Risk Even at Moderate Air Pollution
In an alarming revelation of research, experts claims that even moderate levels of air pollution have now been linked to increased risk of heart attacks in people with heart disease.
This result was disclosed in a new research that was presented last week at the American Heart Association's annual conference.
16,000 heart attacks treated at International Healthcare in Utah that were done over the last 20 years compiled the data that formed the basis of research. The data and the medical reports that were thus collected were matched with records and data on weather and reports on fine particulate matter in the air. Fine particulate matter originates in the air to pollution from the burning of fuel in vehicles or power plants or from other sources such as wildfires.
The researchers claimed that the pollution levels that are considered to be ‘moderate’ by the US environmental regulators is the point where elevated risk of heart attacks began.
The threshold was around 25 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter, which translates to an air quality index of 78 on the Environmental Protection Agency;s scale.
According to the EPA, this level of air pollution or fine particulate matter in the air is considered a yellow warning—acceptable air quality for most people but potential concern for a "very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Dr. Kent Meredith, an interventional cardiologist at Intermountain and lead investigator on the study said that the study managed to relate for the first time the most dangerous types of heart attacks, where an artery is entirely blocked, to short-term exposure to moderately polluted air.
While the research did not find risk at lower levels of pollution, it also did not find an increased risk for people without heart disease.
Meredith explained how air pollution trigger heart attacks.
"When you have exposure to that high a level of inhaled fine particulate matter, you’re triggering your immune system," Meredith said. Arteries can get clogged resulting in blockage of blood flow to the heart as the immune response can cause plaque built up in the arteries to become unstable and dislodge.
Cold air masses tend to settle in the valley in January and February in the Salt Lake City area, where Intermountain is based, Meredith said. This creates smog.  
"It’ll look pretty gray, the air is thick and brown. In mountains a thousand feet above that, you can actually see that layer," he said.
 The study suggests limiting time outdoors and exercise at relatively modest levels of pollution, for people with heart disease. With more particulates above that threshold, the risk to people with heart disease increases
"The data suggests that you can recommend that patients with heart disease are more vulnerable for those types of events when they’re exposed to higher levels of pollution," Meredith said.
There were more than 3.3 million deaths worldwide in 2010 due to outdoor air pollution. Researchers and experts claim that if left unchecked, the annual toll from dirty air may double to 6.6 million premature deaths by 2050.