Short-Term Exposure To Particulate Matter Air Pollution Increases Cardiac Arrest Risk: Study

New research suggests that exposure to air pollution, even for short periods of time, can increase an individual’s risk of suffering cardiac arrest, adding to the growing concerns about the widespread impacts of particulate matter.

Australian and Japanese researchers report that even short periods of exposure to particulate matter air pollution raises the risk of cardiac arrest in a dose-specific response, particularly among the elderly.

In findings published in the January issue of The Lancet, researchers focused on short-term exposure to air pollution and its effect on out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, or cardiac arrests occurring when a patient is not being treated at a hospital.

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The population-based study used registry data from emergency medical responses in Japan from 2014 to 2015, as well as the country’s records on air pollution.

Measurements of daily particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5), carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, photochemical oxidants, and sulfur dioxide exposure on the day of the arrest and one to three days before the cardiac arrest incidents were measured and analyzed.

More than 250,000 cases of cardiac arrest were identified. The average daily PM 2.5 level was 11.98 μg/m3. Every 10 mg/m3 increase in PM 2.5 was associated with an increased risk of cardiac arrest on the same day. The risk increased by 1% to 4%.

Patients over the age of 65 were seen as particularly vulnerable.

PM 2.5 is particulate matter air pollution the size of 2.5 micrometers, or 70 times smaller than the size of a single human hair. The particles of soot and dirt are so small that they are easily inhaled and enter the bloodstream, leading to serious health side effects, including cardiovascular disease.

Prior studies have implicated exposure to PM 2.5 to other health effects. Research published late last year indicated even at levels below international safety standards for pollution, a person’s risk of disease was increased.

Researchers warn there is an urgent need to reassess the international guidelines on air quality. Even moderate air pollution exposure can lead to lung damage similar to what is seen in long time smokers.

The findings of the new study support the evidence that there really is no safe level of air pollution exposure.

Particulate matter air pollution leads to the deaths of nearly 30,000 Americans each year, hundreds of thousands perhaps globally. Safety standards must be reevaluated and measures to reduce air pollution should be undertaken.

This is the largest study of its kind conducted on air pollution, specifically particulate matter.

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