Heart failure linked to air pollution: study

Jul 11 2013, 02:58 IST
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Summary‘A small dip in pollutant level can prevent many cases’

Short-term exposure to major air pollutants appears to increase heart failure risks, according to a data review from 12 countries published in the medical journal The Lancet Wednesday. Researchers of the University of Edinburgh and Public Health Foundation of India among others reviewed the evidence linking air pollution and heart failure.

The study found that a modest dip in the levels of fine particulate matter found in exhaust fumes and industrial air pollutants could prevent about 8,000 heart failure hospitalisations and save more than $300 million in the US alone.

Nicholas Mills and Anoop S V Shah of the University of Edinburgh, Harish Nair of Public Health Foundation of India and others combined data from 35 studies that assessed the impact of daily rise in gaseous air pollutants and particulate matter on the risk of heart failure.

The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, found a strong and consistent link between heart failure and exposure to air pollutants, with the exception of ozone.

Heart failure hospitalisation or death was associated with increases in carbon monoxide (3·52 per cent per 1 ppm), sulphur dioxide (2·36 per cent per 10 ppb) and nitrogen dioxide (1·70 per cent per 10 ppb).

Dr K Srinath Reddy, head of Public Health Foundation of India and President of the World Heart Federation, said several studies have shown that air pollution affects lungs and aggravates bronchitis. Recent studies show air pollution can increase heart failure risks.

While air pollution is known to be risk factor for heart attacks, it ws not clear if exposure increases the risk of adverse events in patients. The systematic evidence showed that air pollution has a close temporal association with heart failure mortality. WHO estimates say air pollution is responsible for over a million premature deaths worldwide every year.

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