Dr. Yariv Gerber of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine said cardiac patients living in high pollution areas were found to be more than 40 percent more likely to have a second heart attack when compared to patients living in low pollution areas.
"We know that like smoking cigarettes, pollution itself provokes the inflammatory system," Gerber said in a statement. "If you are talking about long-term exposure and an inflammatory system that is irritated chronically, pollution may well be involved in the progression of atrial sclerosis that manifests in cardiac events."
The study tracked 1,120 first-time heart attack patients who had been admitted to 1-in-8 hospitals in central Israel between 1992 and 1993, all of whom were under the age of 65 at the time of admittance. The patients were tracked until 2011, a period of 19 years.
Compared to patients who lived in areas with the lowest recorded levels of pollution, those in the most polluted environment were 43 percent more likely to have a second heart attack or suffer congestive heart failure, while 46 percent more likely to suffer a stroke.
The findings were presented at the San Diego Epidemiological Meeting of the American Heart Association and the annual meeting of the Israeli Heart Society.