Smog gets in your heart-A A +A
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
IT'S not a case of “smoke gets in your eyes” but “smog” where the heart is concerned. Levels of ozone and of air pollution are directly linked to heart attacks, according to a new study from Houston.
For both ozone and airborne fine particulate matter (tiny solid and liquid pollutants such as those emitted by cars and factories), peak exposure was found to increase the risk for heart attack nearly five percent, Health Day reported. Men, blacks and people older than 65 were at greatest risk, the investigators found.
These findings should prompt US health officials to continue their efforts to reduce air pollution and provide the public with early warnings of high ozone levels, the study authors suggested.
In conducting the study, researcher Katherine Ensor and colleagues examined eight years of data on air quality in Houston. (Ensor is a professor and chair of the department of statistics at Rice University.) They also reviewed information compiled by Houston Emergency Medical Services on more than 11,000 heart attacks that occurred outside of the city’s hospitals. More than 90 percent of cases were fatal, and 55 percent occurred during the heat of summer.
Heart attacks were linked to exposure to both ozone and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrograms in the air. An average increase in fine particulate matter of six micrograms per day over the course of two days increased the risk for heart attack by 4.6 percent. People with pre-existing health problems would be at particular risk, the researchers noted.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2013.