Exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of stroke in people who already suffer from heart problems, according to a new study published by JAMA Network Open.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analysed the health data of more than 31,000 adults who suffer from Atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that occurs when the two upper chambers of your heart experience chaotic electrical signals, it currently affects more than 12 million Americans.
The researchers found that for every 6% increase in the levels of particulate matter (PM2.5), the risk of stroke for adults with the heart condition increased by 8%.
Of the patients included in the study, 1,546 suffered a stroke during the eight-year study period.
Those who were exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5 were between 20% and 36% more likely to suffer a stroke.
Co-author of the study, Dr Jared Magnani said: ‘We found that pollution exposure increases stroke risk in people with Atrial fibrillation in a large cohort of people who live in Allegheny County, Pa. This is an important place to study pollution because of the history of extensive industrial exposures in the area.
‘People with any heart condition need to understand that they are at high risk from environmental exposures, and they need to monitor pollution levels in their area and pay attention to the air quality.
‘People with heart conditions tend to be older and have other health conditions, so pollution has an additive effect on their risk of stroke.’
In related news, researchers at the Universities of Lancaster, Montana and Mexico have found that toxic metallic air pollutants from industry and vehicle emissions are causing a ‘silent heart disease epidemic.’
Using state-of-the-art electron microscopy, the researchers found that air pollutants are entering inside the mitochondria of the heart tissue and are causing cardiac stress.
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