Exposure to air pollution increases risk of heart attack
A new European study has found that exposing yourself to particulate matter in the air for a long period of time can up the risk of heart attack.
The ESCAPE study, led by scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, investigates the effects of air pollution on the population’s health.
In 11 participating population groups in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Germany the association between air pollution and incidence of coronary events has now been determined.
The results show that high particulate matter concentration at the residence location may increase the risk for an acute coronary event.
The scientists, including the team led by Dr. Annette Peters and Dr. Kathrin Wolf of the Institute of Epidemiology II at Munchen, evaluated data from more than 100,000 participants.
At enrollment, all study participants were free from cardiovascular diseases. The participants were followed for incident coronary events for an average period of 11.5 years.
Event incidence was then compared to concentrations of particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometers (PM10) and inhalable particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) at the residence location.
During the study period, a total of 5,157 individuals suffered a heart attack or unstable angina pectoris, both generally caused by calcification of the coronary vessels.
Peters, lead author of the study, said that the results show that exposure to particulate matter poses a significant health risk and an even greater risk than previously thought
The adverse health effects that occurred at exposure levels below the current specified limits are particularly alarming, and the study therefore supports the demands to lower these limits, Peters said.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.
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