Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 25

Air pollution linked to heart attacks

Air pollution linked to heart attacks

Chinese study shows people are at greatest risk during the first hour of exposure , with the elderly being more susceptible

Common air pollutants can lead to heart attacks even in people exposed to levels below World Health Organization air quality guidelines .

Researchers found that pollution exposure can trigger acute coronary syndrome , a general term indicating that the blood supply to the heart has been interrupted . This can happen during a heart attack or unstable angina , which is chest pain caused by blood clots temporarily obstructing an artery . People were at a higher risk in the first hour after being exposed to pollutants , while the risk also increased with age and with higher levels of pollution .
“ The adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution have been well documented . But we were still surprised at the very prompt effects ,” Dr Haidong Kan , a professor in the School of Public Health at Fudan University in Shanghai who led the study , said in a press release .
“ Another surprise was the non-threshold effects of air pollution ,” he said . “ In other words , any concentrations of air pollutants ( such as fine particulate matter , nitrogen dioxide , sulfur dioxide , and carbon monoxide ) recorded in the present study may have the potential to trigger the onset of a heart attack .”
Researchers scoured data from about 1.3 million people treated for heart attacks and unstable angina across 318 Chinese cities to measure pollutant concentrations at the onset of their conditions .
The study is the first to demonstrate a link between pollution exposure and heart attacks on an hourly basis , Dr Sanjay Rajagopalan , director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Case Western Reserve University in the US , who didn ’ t take part in the research , said in the press release .
Heart patients could gain five healthy years by quitting smoking
It ’ s one of the most effective measures to prevent another heart attack or a stroke

Smokers who have had a heart attack or a procedure to unblock arteries could stay disease-free for a number of years equivalent to that provided by three medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes by simply ditching cigarettes , says a recent study .

“ The benefits of smoking cessation are even greater than we realised ,” said study author Dr Tinka Van Trier of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre , in a press release . “ Patients could gain nearly five years of healthy life .”
The patients involved in the study experienced a past heart attack and / or had stent implantation or bypass surgery , a group that is typically at a high risk of suffering another heart attack or a stroke . Quitting smoking was “ potentially the most effective preventive action ” available for them .
The study was based on data from 989 patients aged 45 years and older who were smoking at least six months after a heart attack and / or stent implantation or bypass surgery . Healthy years were defined as those without a heart attack or stroke .
Beyond increasing the risk of heart problems , smoking can affect overall health and is responsible for the death of about eight million people a year , according to the World Health Organization . More than seven million deaths are directly related to tobacco use , with the remainder being non-smokers who have been exposed to second-hand smoke .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MAY 2022
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