New study links air pollution to heart disease treatment

Hospitals in cities that have high levels of air pollution report higher rates of treatment for blocked arteries, according to a study.

For the study, which was published in the European Society of Cardiology, researchers from Krakow, Poland, compared five cities in the country where the annual average PM10 concentration was over 50μg/m3 with six cities where levels were around half this.

They then enrolled 5,648 patients from the ‘unpolluted’ cities and 10,239 patients from polluted cities with all patients having stents inserted to open arteries that had been blocked due to acute coronary syndromes such as heart attacks or unstable angina.

Dates of stent procedures (PCIs) were matched with air quality on the same day during a 52-week period. Analyses were also performed to compare winter versus non-winter weeks because pollution levels rise during winter in Poland.

The research found that patients in cities with clean air were more sensitive to pollution rises, with each 1 μg/m3 increase in PM10 concentration linked to 0.22 additional procedures per week.

Meanwhile, in polluted cities, the same rise in PM10 was linked with just 0.18 additional PCIs per week.

Regarding the seasonal effect, the PCI rate was significantly lower in non-winter, compared to winter, weeks in both polluted and clean cities.

‘The higher incidence of PCI in winter is related to greater air pollution during this period,’ said Dr Rafal Januszek who authored the study

‘This is due to several factors such as artificial heating and the resulting smog,’ he added.

‘The study shows that the incidence of acute coronary syndromes treated with PCI was higher in winter and rose along with increasing pollution, and this rise was higher in regions with initially cleaner air, if taking the same increment in pollution into account.

‘This is further evidence that more needs to be done to lower pollution levels and protect the public’s health.’

In July, a study found that city residents’ hearts could be up to ten times more polluted than those living in places with cleaner air, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease, a study has found.

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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