Adding to the ill effects of air pollution, a new study has suggested that poor air quality increases patients' risk of heart attack. The findings revealed that people with heart disease face an increased risk of a serious heart attack during poor air quality days.
For the study, researchers examined more than 16,000 patients at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. The team analyzed patients who had suffered three types of heart attacks - STEMI, non-STEMI, and unstable angina - to identify which type of heart attack was more likely on days when the air was especially polluted.
‘People with heart disease face an increased risk of a serious heart attack during poor air quality days. Physicians should better counsel their heart patients to avoid exposure to poor air quality, and thus decrease their chances of suffering a heart attack.’
Cardiologist Kent Meredith said, "The research indicated that during poor air quality days, namely those with high levels of PM2.5, patients with heart disease are at a higher risk of suffering from a STEMI heart attack. By making this association, physicians can better counsel their heart patients to avoid exposure to poor air quality, and thus decrease their chances of suffering a heart attack on days that they are potentially at highest risk."
Dr. Meredith further added, "The study suggests that during many yellow air quality days, and all red quality air days, people with known coronary artery disease may be safer if they limit their exposure to particulate matter in the air by exercising indoors, limiting their time outdoors, avoiding stressful activities, and remaining compliant with medications. These activities can reduce inflammation in the arteries, and therefore make patients less sensitive to the fine particulate matter present on poor air quality days."
The study was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Session in Orlando.