In a research published on BMJ.com earlier today, it was said that high levels of pollution increases the risk of having heart attacks. This is especially true during the first six hours after exposure—however, the risk diminishes after the six hours frame.
According to researchers, heart attack is most likely to happen regardless, but its occurrence is kind of pulled forward by a few hours with pollution. They assumed that this is due to the transient nature of the heart attack risk which they called short term displacement. Although this research has given proof to the assumption that pollution levels are linked to risks of premature death from heart disease, the direct link between heart attack and pollution is a few notches below clarity.
The study was headed by Krishnan Bhaskaran, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The study evaluated about 79,288 cases of heart attack from the year 2003 to 2006. These individuals have hourly exposure to pollution each day. They also adopted the UK National Air Quality Archive in determining the levels of pollutants present in the atmosphere. The pollutants included were PM10, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide and Ozone.
According to Bhaskaran, increased levels of PM10 and Nitrogen Dioxide are markers of traffic related pollution. There being no significant increase in the risk for heart attacks over a wider period, the authors said that this may be a case of “limited potential for reducing the overall burden of myocardial infarction through reductions in pollution alone, but that should not undermine calls for action on air pollution, which has well established associations with broader health outcomes including overall, respiratory and cardiovascular mortality.”
Also, in an accompanying editorial, Prof. Richard Edwards and Dr. Simon Hales of the University of Otago in New Zealand said, “despite the strengths of the study, it is possible that a true effect was missed because of imprecise measurements and inadequate statistical power. Given other evidence that exposure to air pollution increases overall mortality and morbidity, the case for stringent controls on pollutant levels remains strong.”
Eurostat Information revealed that air pollution caused by human activities, including industrial and energy production, the burning of fossil fuels and increased use of certain types of transport, causes serious health problems for hundreds of thousands of Europeans every year.
A 2004 World Health Organization evaluation found that air pollution contributed to 100,000 premature deaths and the loss of 725,000 working days annually in Europe. This article highlights the changes in concentrations of air pollutants seen in the European Union.
In the same context, Car emissions kill 30,000 people each year in the U.S. with. More than half of the people in the U.S. live in areas that failed to meet federal air quality standards at least several days a year (7, 1990), and around 80 million Americans live in areas that continually fail to meet these standards (6, 1998), and 60% of the population in 2008.