Exposure to the air pollution caused by nearby wildfires can severely affect people’s heart especially if they are in the senior group, a recently published study suggests.
A group of researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analyzed the medical records of Australians between 2006 and 2007, when the country was ravaged by rampant bushfires. The team learned that the risk of cardiac arrest and other heart-related problems was nearly 7 percent higher in the wake of the wildfires.
The study, which was published this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association, revealed a statistically significant link between a two-day exposure to the smoke generated by wildfires and increased risk of cardiovascular complications.
The link was noticed in study participants that were 65 or older. Men were more likely to experience a cardiac arrest event outside a hospital, while women were more likely to be hospitalized over ischemic heart disease (IHD) issues, researchers reported.
Dr. Anjali Haikerwal, lead author of the study explained that a PM2 concentration of harmful particulate matter in the atmosphere was enough to cause the elderly severe cardiovascular events.
And the risk is high because wildfires tend to expand quickly and the resulted pollution affects large groups of population although these groups are not in the vicinity of the wildfires, researchers noted.
Australia has some of the most fire-friendly regions on Earth. Between 2006 and 2007, the wildfires there lasted nearly two months and turned into ashes more than 4,000 square miles of land.
Dr. Haikerwal pinpointed that past studies were unable to find a significant association between the fires and acute coronary events. But the latest study on the incidence of IHD episodes, cardiac arrests, heart attacks, and angina is different.
The findings support previous findings that wildfire smoke exposure can lead to a spike in cardiovascular hospital admissions and those suggesting that air pollution triggered by the events are harmful to both respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Patients have an “increased risk for cardiovascular events during times when air pollution is particularly severe, whether from wildfires, heavy vehicle traffic or other exposures,” argued Dr Alfred Bove, a heart problem expert from Temple University in Philadelphia
Dr. Bove believes that those who went to the hospital because of an acute cardiovascular event already had an undiagnosed heart condition. So, he recommended those that know they have a heart problem to stay away from highly polluted areas when an wildfire occurs.
Image Source: CTV News
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