Air pollution specifically fine particulate matter, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease mortality
Air pollution has emerged as a potentially modifiable risk factor for the development of CVD. Multiple observational studies have demonstrated an association between fine particulate air pollution (primarily from the use of fossil fuels in automobiles, power plants, and for heating purposes) and cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary mortality as well as an increased risk for the development of acute coronary syndromes.
In fact both the American Heart Association (2010) and the European Society of Cardiology (2015) have issued official statements discussing the association between long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Speaking about the associated risks with the increasing pollution levels of Delhi, Dr. S.S Agarwal – National President and Padma Shri Awardee Dr. KK Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General of IMA in a joint statement said, “Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.”
Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012. Some 88% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.
In addition to long-term risk, short-term exposure to air pollutants (both ozone and fine particulate matter) has been associated with acute coronary ischemic events.
The association between air pollution and episodes of AF was evaluated in a 2013 study of 176 patients with dual chamber implantable cardioverter-defibrillators that were capable of detecting episodes of AF. After follow-up of nearly two years, there were 328 episodes of AF lasting 30 seconds or more found in 49 patients. The potential impact of multiple parameters of air pollution, (measured hourly) on the development of AF was examined. The odds of AF increased significantly as the concentration of particulate matter increased in the two hours prior to the event.
It is thus important that heart patients stay indoors or wear a mask when in places with high pollution levels. It is the responsibility of each one of us to ensure that we reduce environmental pollution for our own long-term health and that of others. Delhi air quality is a matter of grave concern for the medical fraternity and awareness generation and prevention is crucial.