Air pollution linked with elevated risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes

A five-year study in Poland shows 'worrying associations between air pollution and death from cardiovascular disease'

19 April 2023
Image: CC Cecilia Piovan
Image: CC Cecilia Piovan
 

Deaths from cardiovascular disease are elevated on polluted days and for two days afterwards, according to research presented at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2023, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 

Policymakers should consider measures to promote clean air including subsidies for upgrading household heating systems and vehicle-free zones

“Our study suggests that to preserve heart health it is advisable to plan time outdoors around air quality forecasts,” said study author Dr. Michal Swieczkowski of the Medical University of Bialystok, Poland. “When staying home is not an option, wearing a mask during peak pollution hours and avoiding areas with heavy traffic should be considered.”

This study examined the association between air pollution and death from cardiovascular disease overall, and from two types of cardiovascular disease, namely acute coronary syndromes and ischaemic stroke.

The study was conducted in five cities in eastern Poland. The main sources of these pollutants are road traffic and household heaters using coal or wood.

During the five-year study, there were a total of 87,990 deaths, of which 34,907, 9,688, and 3,776 were due to cardiovascular disease, acute coronary syndromes and ischaemic stroke, respectively. 

Dr Swieczkowski said: “The results show worrying associations between air pollution and death from cardiovascular disease. Policymakers should consider measures to promote clean air including subsidies for upgrading household heating systems and vehicle-free zones.”

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