Four leading cardiovascular organisations have called for urgent action to tackle air pollution.
The World Heart Federation (WHF), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA) and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) have released a joint statement urging the medical community and health authorities to mitigate the impact of air pollution on people’s health.
Air pollution is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and a major contributor to the global burden of disease.
Long-term exposure to air pollution has also been linked to an increased risk of death from Covid-19. This dangerous ‘triple threat’ of air pollution, Covid-19 and cardiovascular disease should be taken seriously, warn major health authorities.
In 2019, an estimated 6.7 million deaths, or 12% of all deaths worldwide, were attributable to outdoor or household air pollution.
As many as half of these were due to cardiovascular disease. Air pollution also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases, which are known to raise a person’s risk of experiencing some of the more severe consequences of Covid-19.
‘Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, air pollution was an issue of growing concern due to its impact on people’s health, although it was frequently overlooked as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,’ said Michael Brauer, chair of the World Heart Federation Air Pollution Expert Group and co-author of the statement.
‘Covid-19 has brought a new, deadly factor to the equation, and the time has come for the health community to speak up and take action.’
The statement will be published simultaneously in the flagship journals of all four organisations: the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), the European Heart Journal (EHJ) and Global Heart.
‘Air pollution is one of the most underestimated causes of heart disease and stroke,’ said Professor Stephan Achenbach, President of the European Society of Cardiology.
‘More research is urgently required to identify susceptible populations and to determine the optimal methods of improving air quality to benefit cardiovascular health. Air pollution needs to be recognized as a major modifiable risk factor in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, and measures to reduce its detrimental short-term and long-term influence on cardiovascular health, potentially over generations, are urgently required.’
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