Study: Pollution, weather linked to post-heart attack health

By Marilyn Malara

LONDON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Researchers presenting at this year's European Society of Cardiology Congress have connected patient status after experiencing heart attack with weather and everyday pollutants.

According to the study, which involved about 2,300 patients who had heart attacks between 2006 and 2012, environmental conditions have an effect on a person's risk of heart attack as well as post-MI treatments.


Researcher Aneta Cislak and her team from the Medical University of Silesia in Poland found most patients with high risk of heart attack, bleeding and low left ventricular ejection fraction were admitted to the hospital during warm, sunny, dry days when the air consisted of high levels of carbon monoxide.

"These were the sickest patients," Cislak said during a presentation at the ESC Congress in London. "The findings may be explained by the fact that their organs may be more sensitive to weather changes, leading to decompensation."

Alternatively, she found percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) treatment was more successful on cool, windy, bright days with low concentrations of ozone, carbon monoxide and nitric oxides in the air.

"One of the possible explanations for this finding is that air pollutants like carbon monoxide bind irreversibly to haemoglobin and impair blood oxygen transport. This can cause hypoxia and lead to worse clinical status and less successful treatment," Cislak said.


More patients died either in the hospital or within a month after a heart attack on cold, less windy days, but Cislak says the phenomenon is, for now, unexplainable.

"This was a small observational study and our analysis was univariate so we cannot rule out the possibility that the associations were caused by the co-existence of other factors," she explained. "'The negative influence of air pollutants on the cardiovascular system could be explained by their connection with inflammation, affecting the respiratory system and as an effect impaired oxygenation."

"It should be remembered that not only do humans influence the environment, but the environment also influences humans," Cislak concluded.

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