Wednesday April 8, 2020

Exposure to Air Pollution May Trigger Non-Fatal Heart Attack

Air pollution's tiny particles may trigger heart attacks

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Heart attack pollution
Exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a non-fatal heart attack. Pixabay

Researchers have found that even a few hours’ exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a non-fatal heart attack.

Myocardial infarction is a major form of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Ultrafine particles (UFP) are 100 nanometres or smaller in size. In urban areas, automobile emissions are the primary source of UFP.

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers investigated the effects of UFP exposure and heart attacks using the number of particles and the particle length and surface area concentrations at hourly intervals of exposure.

“This study confirms something that has long been suspected–air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure,” said the study’s first author Kai Chen, Assistant Professor at Yale University in the US.

Heart attack pollution
The researchers were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects. Pixabay

UFP constitute a health risk due to their small size, large surface areas per unit of mass, and their ability to penetrate the cells and get into the blood system, the study said.

The researchers were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects.

The research team examined data from a registry of all non-fatal MI cases in Augsburg, Germany.

The study looked at more than 5,898 non-fatal heart attack patients between 2005 and 2015.

The individual heart attacks were compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack and adjusted for a range of additional factors, such as the day of the week, long-term time trend and socio-economic status.

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“This represents an important step toward understanding the appropriate indicator of ultrafine particles exposure in determining the short-term health effects, as the effects of particle length and surface concentrations were stronger than the ones of particle number concentration and remained similar after adjustment for other air pollutants,” said Chen.

“Our future analyses will examine the combined hourly exposures to both air pollution and extreme temperature. We will also identify vulnerable subpopulations regarding pre-existing diseases and medication intake,” Chen added. (IANS)

Next Story

Bedroom Air Filters Can improve Breathing in Asthmatic Children: Study

For the results, the researchers conducted the double-blind crossover study in a Shanghai suburb during a period of moderately high PM2.5 pollution in 2017

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Bedroom
It's probable that if children use the filters on an ongoing daily basis in their bedroom, they will see continued benefits. Pixabay

Using a bedroom air filter that traps fine particles of pollution with diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometres can significantly improve breathing in asthmatic children, according to a new study.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a ubiquitous air pollutant originating from fossil fuel emissions, wildfires and other biomass burning, industrial sources, and gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Thirty times smaller in diameter than a human hair, the particles are easily inhaled and can penetrate deep into the small, or lower, airways where they can trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms. Inhalers don’t help since they are only designed to open upper airways.

The findings, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, documented physiological improvements occur in the child’s airways when air filters are in use, and it suggests that with consistent use, the filters may help prevent, not just alleviate asthmatic flare-ups.

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“Our results show that using an air purifier to reduce the exposure of lower airways to pollutants could help asthmatic children breathe easier without those costly drugs,” said study researcher Junfeng Zhang from Duke University in the US.

For the results, the researchers conducted the double-blind crossover study in a Shanghai suburb during a period of moderately high PM2.5 pollution in 2017. They gave 43 children with mild to moderate asthma two air filters to use in their bedrooms. One was a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter capable of removing PM2.5; the other was a sham filter.

Air Purifiers
Using a bedroom air filter that traps fine particles of pollution with diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometres can significantly improve breathing in asthmatic children, according to a new study. Wikimedia Commons

Each filter was used for two weeks in random order with a two-week interval in between. Neither the children nor their families knew which filter was which. “Results showed that PM2.5 concentrations inside the children’s bedrooms were a third to two-thirds lower when the real air filters were in use than when the sham ones were being used,” said researcher Michael H Bergin.

This drop coincided with significant improvements in how easily air flowed in and out of the children’s small airways and lungs, Bergin said. These improvements included a 24 per cent average reduction in total airway resistance, a 43.5 per cent average reduction in small airway resistance, a 73.1 per cent average increase in airway elasticity, and a 27.6 per cent average reduction in exhaled nitric oxide, a biomarker of lung inflammation.

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Although the benefits lasted only as long as the real air filters were in use, “it’s probable that if children use the filters on an ongoing daily basis they will see continued benefits,” Zhang said. (IANS)