Tiny particles in the air may cause sudden heart attacks, study suggests : ScienceAlert

Nearly a decade of data collected across Singapore suggests that elevated concentrations of tiny particles in the air can trigger cardiac arrests, making the need to reduce air pollution levels around the world even more pressing.

The researchers looked for particles at least 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair known as PM2.5 particles (for 2.5 micrometers in diameter). Their small size means they can be easily inhaled and have been linked to a number of health problems, including autoimmune diseases.

Here, pollution levels in Singapore were tracked in relation to more than 18,000 reported cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) between July 2010 and December 2018. Through statistical analysis, 492 of the cases could be attributed to increases in PM2.5 concentrations.

“We have produced clear evidence of a short-term association of the prime minister2.5 with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is a devastating event that often leads to sudden death,” says epidemiologist Joel Aik, from the Duke–NUS School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore.

This is an observational study, which means we can only speculate about the relationship between pollution levels and cardiac arrests. Furthermore, air pollution measurements taken at air quality stations cannot be assumed to reflect individual exposure.

However, there is enough data to suggest that it is a link worth exploring further. The data showed that daily P.M2.5 Concentrations averaged 18.44 micrograms per cubic meter. Testing hypothetical reductions in air pollution, the researchers found that a drop of 1 microgram per cubic meter was associated with an 8 percent reduction in heart attack events, while a drop of 3 micrograms per cubic meter saw a 30 percent reduction. Hypothetically, these reductions translate into 39 and 149 fewer heart attacks, respectively.

There was also a clear drop in heart attack risk 3 to 5 days after exposure to higher pollution levels, suggesting the effects are short-term. Researchers say cleaning up the city’s air could save lives and reduce pressure on hospitals.

“These results make it clear that efforts to reduce levels of air pollution particles to the 2.5 microgram or lower range, and measures to protect against exposure to these particles, could help reduce sudden cardiac death. resistance in the Singaporean population. the burden on health services”, says Aik.

OHCAs have a typical survival rate of about 10 percent, much lower than the odds of surviving a heart attack in the hospital. So it is no exaggeration to say that reducing the number of these cases saves lives. We can add that to the long list of reasons we need to clean our air.

Although this link has been identified in the past, in cities such as New York and Melbourne, Australia, the results have not been consistent with data collected in other places such as Denmark. These inconsistencies tend to occur at pollution concentrations below the World Health Organization’s air quality guideline values, but research shows that there is no “safe” level of exposure for the population’s heart health.

What is clear is that most of us breathe poor quality air, which is believed to be responsible for millions of premature deaths in both urban and rural areas each year.

The team behind the new study wants to see more done to control air quality in places like Singapore. With everything from traffic jams to fires coming into play, there are plenty of places to start making progress, including indoors.

“This study provides strong evidence for the impact of air quality on health and should stimulate policy and ground efforts to manage emissions from key sources that can lead to PM2.5 increases and prevents potential harm to public health,” says Marcus Ong, a clinician-scientist from the Duke–NUS School of Medicine.

“New policy interventions, such as phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles, can help reduce risks.”

The research has been published in The Lancet Public Health.

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