Air Pollution Enhances Heart Attacks & Stroke Hazards

    Nov-23-2008

A new study has detected that indoor and outdoor air pollution may be responsible for causing deadly heart attacks and strokes. The risks from both pollutions are equal, says the findings of a research conducted by the scientists at the University of Michigan in the United States.

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During the course of the study, researchers examined 65 subjects wearing jackets that were capable of maintaining track of air pollution. The subjects of the research, who came from three different regions in Detroit, comprised men as well as women in the age group between 19 and 80 years. Moreover, the subjects belonged to diverse racial groups and also included smokers.

The scientists who conducted the study discovered that a 10 microgram every cubic meter enhancement in the contact to air contamination, including secondhand smoke, indoor heating appliances or gaseous exhaust from cars was capable of increasing the risks to heart attacks and strokes.

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In addition, it was detected that this slight increase in exposure to air pollution could cause deadly harms, including constrict the diameter of the blood vessels in the arms by 18 per cent within just two days of coming in contact with the contaminant and cause a raise of two points in the blood pressure on the following day of the exposure to air pollution. It may be mentioned here that high blood pressure or hypertension and narrowed down blood vessels are the major causes of heart attacks and strokes.

According to Dr. Robert Brook, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who is also the lead author of the research findings, supposing there is a rise in pollution to the tune of 10 micrograms for every cubic meter in the neighbourhood, the chances of dying on the following of coming in contact with the contamination enhances by one per cent. The next observation of Dr. Brook, who presented the research findings at the recently organized Session 2008 of the American Heart Association's conference in New Orleans, is more alarming. He says that when the rise in air pollution level is 10 microgram per cubic meter in an urban area with a population of one to five million, on an average this could cause one death every day.

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It is shocking to note that over 9,000 people have died untimely owing to air pollution in Canada each year and the annual casualty owing to air pollution across the globe is 800,000. These statistics prompted Dr. Brook and his colleagues to undertake the study to ascertain if the routine or daily exposure to air contaminants were responsible for any instant risk of heart attack or stroke.

It may be mentioned here that the subjects put on the jackets capable of tracing air pollution for five days each during the summers as well as winters for three years. During the period of the study, researchers evaluated the blood pressure of each subject every day. While the jackets computed the exposure to air pollutants of each individual subject, depending on the information available from the local neighbourhood monitoring stations, researchers conducting the study calculated the amount of contaminants the subjects came in contact with in the environment.

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According to medical professionals, it is not only essential for individuals who are already confronted with other potential hazards of heart attack and stroke to keep away from high traffic areas, but they also need to set up filters in the interiors of their home to purify the air. Recently, Prof Bruce Urch, a specialist in air pollution at the University of Toronto, told that if one desires to undertake work outs outdoors, they should ensure that they are far off from major thoroughfares and avoid doing exercises in the instance of a smog alert.

It may be emphasized here that secondhand smoking is a major threat to heart attacks and strokes and one needs to be careful that he or she does not come in contact with such air pollution. Interestingly enough, the research detected that among the subjects who did not smoke and resided in no-smoking homes, approximately 30 per cent still came in contact with secondhand smoke at some time or the other.

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