Pollution takes its toll on the heart

Sep 20, 2010

The fine particles of pollution that hang in the air can increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest, according to a new study conducted by a team from Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center and The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Robert A. Silverman, MD, and his colleagues have been interested in the effects of ambient fine particulate matter on a number of medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and asthma. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) keeps tabs on through dozens of strategically placed pollution sensors in cities and towns throughout the country. This data allowed the researchers to collect data on average 24-hour values of small particulates and other gaseous pollutants around New York City during the summer (when pollution is higher) and winter months. They then compared that data to the 8,216 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred between 2002 and 2006. Most people in the throes of a cardiac arrest do not survive in time for emergency medical service teams to save them.

What they were looking for was simple: Were there more cardiac arrests on high pollution days than on lower pollution days? In the , Dr. Silverman and his fellow researchers reported that for a 10ug/m3 rise in small particle air pollution, there was a four-to-10 percent increase in the number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. The current EPA standard is 35ug/m3. The effect was much greater in the summer months, said Dr. Silverman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and director of research at LIJ's Department of Emergency Medicine. The scientists also evaluated levels of ozone, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide, but these showed a much weaker relationship. Analysis of the data from the death records and the 33 EPA monitors was conducted in collaboration with Kazuhiko Ito, PhD, an assistant professor at the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and investigators from the New York City Fire Department, John Freese, MD, Brad J. Kaufman, MD, David J. Prezant, MD, and James Braun.

"Small particulate matter is dangerous to health," said Dr. Silverman. "We need to figure out ways to combat air pollution and decrease the number of high-pollution days." He added that related cardiac arrests occurred during times when the levels were high but still below the current EPA safety threshold.

The researchers are now looking for a relationship between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and traffic flow patterns. Other studies have suggested that one in three people live in areas where small particulate matter levels are considered unhealthy.

Explore further: Physician/Pharmacist model can improve mean BP

Related Stories

Air pollution may increase risk of appendicitis

Oct 06, 2008

Could there be a link between high levels of air pollution and the risk of appendicitis? New research presented at the 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Orlando, suggests a novel ...

Indoor air pollution increases asthma symptoms

Feb 19, 2009

A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found an association between increasing levels of indoor particulate matter pollution and the severity of asthma symptoms among children. The study, which followed a ...

Largest air pollution study is released

Mar 08, 2006

A study published Wednesday suggests fine particulate air pollution spikes increase cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations across the United States.

Recommended for you

Future GPs could benefit from longer training

13 minutes ago

Newly-qualified GPs could be better prepared for practice by increasing the variety and duration of their training programme, according to research being published in the April 2015 issue of the British Jo ...

Ozone air pollution could harm women's fertility

2 hours ago

Many urban and suburban areas have high levels of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant that can adversely affect lung and heart health. New research in mice suggests breathing high levels of ozone could also affect women's ...

Exercise can outweigh harmful effects of air pollution

3 hours ago

New research from the University of Copenhagen has found that the beneficial effects of exercise are more important for our health than the negative effects of air pollution, in relation to the risk of premature ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.