New links between air pollution and deaths from heart disease
While air pollutants have already been implicated in the triggering of heart attacks, new research published today in the European Heart Journal makes important new links between air quality and recovery from heart attacks.
The largest study of its kind found that the death rate after hospital admission for acute coronary syndrome was higher with increased exposure to PM2.5. Dr Cathryn Tonne, lecturer in environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (London, UK) said: “We found that for every 10µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 there was a 20% increase in the death rate.”
The higher levels of air pollution experienced in poorer areas may also help to explain why patients from poorer backgrounds tend to do less well after suffering from heart problems than those from higher socio-economic backgrounds, although there will certainly be other contributing factors.
An accompanying editorial also advises that individual clinicians should “make patients aware of the existence of this risk, and encourage them to be cognizant of the media alerts on air quality in their living areas”. The Healthy Air Campaign welcome this recommendation, and are currently working with Defra to try to establish more effective channels to communicate high pollution events to the public, which currently reach only a very small percentage of the population. We’d like to see air quality as a more consistent feature of weather forecasts, so that the public become more aware of the issue and how to reduce their personal exposure.
So far in 2013, the EU’s ‘Year of Air’, we have seen staggering new research published week after week after week, which should help support calls for stronger legal protections against the health impacts of air pollution.
ClientEarth’s air pollution case against UK government will be heard by the Supreme Court on 7th March.