Pollutants in the air can not only cause breathing problems, but according to the latest Harvard Heart Letter research report, can also cause heart diseases and heart attacks.
Depending on the body size and the activity level, people on an average inhale between 3,000 and 6,000 gallons of air each day. Manufacturing, transportation, electricity generation, and other human activities spew a bewildering array of pollutants into that air.
On days when air pollution levels are high, there are more heart attacks and hospitalizations for heart disease, stroke, heart failure flare-ups, and lung trouble. Air contamination also has long-term effects on heart health, reports the Harvard Heart Letter.
A long-term Harvard study begun in the mid-1970s showed one important effect of chronically breathing polluted air: additional early deaths due to cardiovascular disease. Recently, a group from the University of Southern California showed another — more atherosclerosis, the process that leads to cholesterol-clogged arteries. Among residents of the Los Angeles Basin, those living in areas with the highest average level of fine particulates in the air had thicker carotid arteries (a sign of more atherosclerosis) than those living in less polluted areas.
The Harvard Heart Letter recommends that if people have heart disease, diabetes, or lung problems, or are in poor health, they should check the air quality before going outside, much as they might check the weather. Some states or regions even have air quality alert programs that automatically send an e-mail message or fax to people when poor air quality is predicted in the area concerned.
Medindia on Heart attack: Further information
Heart attack: Also called myocardial infarction, coronary thrombosis or coronary occlusion, heart attack happens when the blood flow to the heart gets severely reduced or stopped altogether. Often heart attack is the direct result of formation of plaques on the blood vessels in a condition called atherosclerosis.
Air pollution: This condition arises when the substance particles that get released into the air from burning of fuel energy pollute the air we breathe in. the air pollution can also happen from the release of noxious gases into the air.
Air pollution and health: air pollution can have both long term and short-term health risks. Elderly population and children are more at risk from the detrimental effects of air pollution than others. In the short term the pollution can cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat, respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, pneumonia; and other conditions like nausea and asthma. In the long term, the effects on health may be chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, or even damage to vital organs like liver, kidneys and brain.