Pollution increases risk of blood clots and irregular heartbeat

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New research has indicated that people are at higher risk of developing clots in the lungs and an irregular heartbeat, due to air pollution.

UK experts have stated that the risk of stroke and heart attacks due to air pollution is not as clear.

Data analysis from England and Wales has indicated that air pollution places the elderly at particular risk.

The British Heart Foundation has stated that further research should be done into the risks of cardiovascular health and pollution.

A team based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used data collected in England and Wales during 2003 and 2009 to determine if there were connections between short-term air pollution and cardiovascular problems.

They discovered that short-term air pollution was linked to blood clots in the lung and abnormal heartbeat. According to the lead researcher, Dr Ai Milojevic, those most affected were females and people over the age of 75.

Dr Milojevic stated that their study found evidence of the effects of air pollution on irregular heartbeat, but there was no clear link to heart attacks and strokes. She stated that hospital patients and the elderly suffering with irregular heartbeat or chronic ischaemic heart disease are at high risk.

The British Heart Foundation’s comment on this study, which was published in Heart, stated that prior studies indicated that air pollution could worsen existing circulatory and heart conditions in vulnerable persons.

A senior cardiac nurse, Julie Ward, stated that this particular study adds weight to what is already known, however it goes further in the suggestion that there is a link between the increased risk of irregular heartbeat and blood clots in the lungs, and air pollution.

She added that as with many of the studies that are undertaken, it is not necessary to view the bigger picture. Although this was a large, detailed study, it has shown some limitations.

She said that because of these limitations, it has become necessary for further research to be done into the effect of air pollution particles on the cardiovascular system.

The World Health Organisation has stated that around seven million died because of air pollution during 2012. These findings indicate a link between heart disease, cancer, respiratory issues and air pollution.

Image Credit: Smabs Sputzer

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