Posted on Oct 31, 2013, 6 a.m.
Fine and ultrafine particles in the air associate with acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, worsening heart failure, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias.
Previously, a number of studies conducted in Europe and the United States have reported an association between air pollution, especially fine and ultrafine particles which are measured as particulate matter (PM) 10, and not only respiratory disease but also acute cardiovascular events and deaths. The European Union has set a PM10 safety threshold of 50 micrograms/m3 but many public health experts speculate that the negative effect of PM10 on the cardiovascular system may occur at levels lower than this threshold. Italian researcher Savina Nodari and colleagues completed a study to confirm the association between levels of PM10, which is a marker of general air pollution, and the risk of acute cardiovascular events. It also examined individual susceptibility to cardiovascular events during high PM10 levels. The study found a significant association between PM10 levels and admission for acute cardiovascular events such as acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, worsening heart failure, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias. The effect was linear, with a 3% increase in admissions for every 10 microgram increase in PM10. Additionally, the team found that older people (ages 65 years and older) and men were particularly susceptible to having arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation or acute coronary syndromes at increasing levels of air pollution. The study authors conclude that: “Results support the hypothesis that raised levels of PM10, even below the current limits set by the European Environmental Protection Agency, are associated with increased admission rates for acute cardiac events, especially in males, older patients and with previous [cardiovascular hospitalizations].”
Nodari S. ”Particulate matter air pollutants and acute cardiovascular hospitalization” (Abstract #251). Presented at Acute Cardiac Care 2013 (European Society of Cardiology), 13 Oct. 2013.