Pollution and winter closely associated with treatment of heart attack

Scientists have linked angioplasty procedures and treatments for blocked arteries with an increasing rate of pollution in the surrounding areas. Research study presented at ESC Congress 2019 along with World Congress of Cardiology added that the situation is even graver during the winters, when the air is the most polluted.

For the study, six unpolluted cities and five polluted cities were examined. Particulate matter (PM) 10 levels published by the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in Poland was also used as reference for the study. PM 10 are particles that are ten micrometers or less in diameter and originate from wood and coal stoves, iron making and quarrying, dust storms, vehicle exhaust emissions, lawn mowing, among others.

Furthermore, 5,648 patients from unpolluted cities and 10,239 patients from polluted cities were observed for the experiment. Moreover, the patients had stent insertion (percutaneous coronary intervention; PCI) in order to open blocked arteries caused due to acute coronary syndromes.

The dates of the PCI procedures matched with the air quality on the same day in the course of the 52 week period. Moreover, the study also examined the air quality during winter and non-winter weeks, in order to check the rise in pollution levels during the winter time.

Results concluded that the annual average level of PM10 concentration was higher in polluted cities (50.95 μg/m3) in comparison to unpolluted cities (26.62 μg/m3). Furthermore, a link between a rise in PM10 concentration and higher frequency of PCI was observed.

The end results also suggest that patients in clean air cities were more sensitive to rise in pollution. Scientists observed an increase of 1 μg/m3 in PM10 concentration which was associated with 0.22 additional PCIs per week and a similar rise was observed with PM10 with an additional 0.18 PCIs per week.

“The higher incidence of PCI in winter is related to greater air pollution during this period,” commented Dr Rafal Januszek of the University Hospital in Krakow, Poland. “This is due to several factors such as artificial heating and the resulting smog.”

Furthermore he added, “The study shows that the incidence of acute coronary syndromes treated with PCI was higher in winter and rose along with increasing pollution, and this rise was higher in regions with initially cleaner air, if taking the same increment in pollution into account. This is further evidence that more needs to be done to lower pollution levels and protect the public’s health.”