September 20, 2010
Pollution Takes Its Toll On The Heart
The fine particles of pollution that hang in the air can increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest, according to a new study conducted by a team from Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center and The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
Robert A. Silverman, MD, and his colleagues have been interested in the effects of ambient fine particulate matter on a number of medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and asthma. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) keeps tabs on air pollution through dozens of strategically placed pollution sensors in cities and towns throughout the country. This data allowed the researchers to collect data on average 24-hour values of small particulates and other gaseous pollutants around New York City during the summer (when pollution is higher) and winter months. They then compared that data to the 8,216 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred between 2002 and 2006. Most people in the throes of a cardiac arrest do not survive in time for emergency medical service teams to save them.
"Small particulate matter is dangerous to health," said Dr. Silverman. "We need to figure out ways to combat air pollution and decrease the number of high-pollution days." He added that pollution related cardiac arrests occurred during times when the levels were high but still below the current EPA safety threshold.
The researchers are now looking for a relationship between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and traffic flow patterns. Other studies have suggested that one in three people live in areas where small particulate matter levels are considered unhealthy.
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