An alarming association between harsh weather conditions, high levels of fine particulate air pollution, and an elevated risk of fatal heart attacks has been shown by a recent study that was published in Circulation, a publication from the American Heart Association. Researchers are warning of the potentially fatal repercussions as severe temperature events grow more common and intense and air pollution continues to pose a threat to global health.
Data from 202,678 fatal heart attack cases in Jiangsu, China, from 2015 to 2020 were examined by a team of researchers under the direction of Dr. Yuewei Liu, an associate professor of epidemiology at Sun Yat-sen University. It is the perfect place to examine the effects of severe temperatures and air pollution on human health because this province has distinct seasons and variable pollution levels.
Dr. Liu emphasized his rising concern about the airborne fine particulate matter and extreme temperature events' detrimental consequences on human health. The goal of the study was to determine whether these two variables could have an additive effect on cardiovascular health, particularly in connection to deadly heart attacks.
The daily heat index, which accounts for both heat and humidity, was used by the researchers to evaluate extreme temperature changes for their investigation. When comparing heart attack fatalities during heatwaves and cold snaps to those on control days, which happened to be on the same day of the week in the same month, they evaluated the severity and length of each event.
The findings showed a marked increase in the incidence of fatal heart attacks with high levels of fine particle pollution (above 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter) and extreme temperature occurrences. The likelihood of this risk was increased in women, the elderly, and during heat waves. According to the researchers' estimates, up to 2.8% of heart attack deaths may be linked to high levels of fine particle pollution and extreme temperatures, which is in line with World Health Organization standards.
Breaking down the specifics, the study found:
An 18% higher risk of fatal heart attacks during 2-day heatwaves with heat indexes at or above the 90th percentile (82.6 to 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit), with the risk increasing with temperature and duration.
A 4% higher risk during 2-day cold snaps with temperatures at or below the 10th percentile (33.3 to 40.5 degrees Fahrenheit), also increasing with lower temperatures and duration.
The risk of a fatal heart attack doubled during 4-day heatwaves with fine particulate pollution above 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter.
Generally, women faced a higher risk than men during heatwaves.
The risk was higher among people ages 80 and older than in younger adults during heatwaves, cold snaps, or days with high levels of fine particulate pollution.
Dr. Liu provided significant mitigation techniques for people to use in order to safeguard their health during periods of harsh weather and high pollution levels in light of these findings. These include remaining indoors during periods of high heat, making use of fans and air conditioners when it's hot outside, wearing appropriately, drinking plenty of water, and putting in window coverings to lower indoor temperatures. Additionally, lowering exposure levels can be achieved by utilizing air purifiers indoors, using masks outside, avoiding busy roads when walking, and choosing less intense outdoor activities on days with high pollution levels.
Dr. Liu emphasized the importance of implementing these measures, especially in regions with historically marginalized and under-resourced communities that bear the brunt of air pollution exposure.
The experts emphasized the need for additional research to confirm these findings and explore the interactive effects of extreme weather and fine particulate pollution on heart attack deaths in various regions with varying temperature and pollution ranges, despite the fact that the study offers insightful information. Future research should also take into account any adaptive strategies people use in the face of extreme circumstances, as these may change exposure levels and risk-taking behaviors.
These findings highlight the urgent need for preventive measures and targeted interventions to protect vulnerable populations from the deadly effects of heatwaves and air pollution as extreme weather events and air pollution continue to pose significant challenges to public health.
Heatwaves and air pollution may double fatal heart attack risk Link