Ultra-fine particles (UFP) may trigger nonfatal heart attacks, according to a new study published by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health.
Although there is a known link between air pollution and heart attacks, little is known about the link between heart attacks and the size of air pollution, such as particle length and surface area.
This research that is published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives is the first study to investigate this link by looking at the number of heart attacks and exposure to UFP at hourly intervals.
The researchers examined data from a register of all nonfatal heart attacks in Augsburg, Germany. They looked at almost 6,000 heart attacks that occurred between 2005 – 2015.
The individual heart attacks were then compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack, the data was adjusted for additional factors such as long-term time trend and socioeconomic status.
They found that increased concentrations of particle numbers of a smaller length and smaller surface area were associated with a 3.27% increased risk of heart attacks within a 6-12 hour period after exposure.
Kai Chen, assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health and the study’s first author said: ‘This study confirms something that has long been suspected, air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease.
‘Elevated levels of UFP are a serious public health concern.
‘This represents an important step toward understanding the appropriate indicator of ultrafine particles exposure in determining the short-term health effects, as the effects of particle length and surface concentrations were stronger than the ones of particle number concentration and remained similar after adjustment for other air pollutants.
‘Our future analyses will examine the combined hourly exposures to both air pollution and extreme temperature. We will also identify vulnerable subpopulations regarding pre-existing diseases and medication intake.’
In related news, research published in The Lancet Planetary Health has revealed that for every daily 10 μg/m3 increase in particulate matter (PM2.5), the risk of cardiac arrest increases by between 1-4%.
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