Known factors that can trigger myocardial infarction include bad habits, poor diet, age, stress, lack of exercise, and more. Meanwhile, a new study has confirmed that polluted air, or rather, the smallest particulate matter found in it and capable of penetrating deep into the bloodstream, may also be the cause.
According to the World Health Organization, seven million people die each year from causes associated with air pollution, with the majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Africa and Asia.
Just six hours spent in polluted air increases the risk of a sudden heart attack, according to scientists from Yale University. Inhaling large amounts of airborne particles, mainly from car exhaust, increases the risk of myocardial infarction by 10 percent, according to their work, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
To confirm long-standing assumptions, the authors of the work analyzed information from the register of all non-fatal cases of heart attacks in residents of the city of Augsburg (Germany) from 2005 to 2015 - about six thousand episodes were studied in total. Then each of the cases was considered in accordance with the data about at what time this particular attack occurred and what ecological situation was observed at that moment.
"The study confirms what has long been suspected that the smallest particles found in polluted air may play a role in serious heart disease," said lead author Dr. Kai Chen, assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health. - This is especially noticeable during the first few hours after exposure. Elevated levels of ultrafine particles (UDP, size - less than 100 nanometers. - Editor's note) are a serious public health problem."
The reason is that these particles are extremely small and remain in the air longer than heavy ones, which makes them more likely to be inhaled by humans. Tiny objects can penetrate deep into the lungs, settle there, and then enter the circulatory system and bloodstream. As a result of the study, it turned out that every time the level of UDC in the air increases, the risk of non-fatal heart attack after six hours in such an area increases several times.
For future research, the authors plan to study the risk for vulnerable populations, for example, people who already suffer from various diseases and are taking medications.