Home / News / India /  Can air pollution cause heart attacks in non-smokers? What new research says

Can air pollution cause heart attacks in non-smokers? What new research says

The new study investigated the associations of nitric oxide, particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 um (PM10), and weather with the incidence of myocardial infarction.Premium
The new study investigated the associations of nitric oxide, particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 um (PM10), and weather with the incidence of myocardial infarction.

  • ‘The correlation between air pollution and heart attacks in our study was absent in smokers, indicating that bad air can actually cause heart attacks since smokers, who are continuously self-intoxicating with air pollutants, seem less affected by additional external pollutants,’ as per new study

Just as air pollution becomes an inescapable reality, interesting new research shows that regular smokers, who already inhale smoke, were unaffected by unclean air, indicating a causal relationship between air pollution and heart attacks. Dr Insa de Buhr-Stockburger of Berlin Brandenburg Myocardial Infarction Registry (B2HIR), Germany, the study author informed, “the correlation between air pollution and heart attacks in our study was absent in smokers. This may indicate that bad air can actually cause heart attacks since smokers, who are continuously self-intoxicating with air pollutants, seem less affected by additional external pollutants." Notably, the study investigated the associations of nitric oxide, particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 um (PM10), and weather with the incidence of myocardial infarction in Berlin. 

Impact of dirty air on human health:

It is interesting to note that the nitric oxide originates from combustion at high temperatures, in particular from diesel vehicles, while combustion is a source of PM10, along with abrasion from brakes and tyres, and dust. The latest study included 17,873 patients with a myocardial infarction between 2008 and 2014 enrolled in the B2HIR and daily numbers of acute myocardial infarctions were extracted from the B2HIR database along with baseline patient characteristics including sex, age, smoking status, and diabetes. 

Additionally, the daily PM10 and nitric oxide concentrations throughout the city were obtained from the Senate of Berlin, while information on sunshine duration, minimum and maximum temperature, and precipitation were retrieved from the Berlin Tempelhof weather station and merged with the data on myocardial infarction incidence and air pollution, news agency ANI report said.

The researchers analysed the associations between the incidence of acute myocardial and average pollutant concentrations on the same day, the previous day, and an average of the three preceding days among all patients according to baseline characteristics and associations between the incidence of acute myocardial and weather parameters were also analysed. Regarding pollution, myocardial infarction was significantly more common on days with high nitric oxide concentrations, with a 1% higher incidence for every 10 ug/m3 increase. Myocardial infarction was also more common when there was a high average PM10 concentration over the three preceding days, with a 4 per cent higher incidence for every 10 ug/m3 increase. The incidence of myocardial infarction in smokers was unaffected by nitric oxide and PM10 concentrations, the report said.

Interestingly, no associations with sunshine duration or precipitation were detected. Dr de Buhr-Stockburger said, "the study indicates that dirty air is a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction and more efforts are needed to lower pollution from traffic and combustion. Causation cannot be established by an observational study. It is plausible that air pollution is a contributing cause of myocardial infarction, given that nitric oxide and PM10 promote inflammation, atherosclerosis is partly caused by inflammatory processes, and no associations were found in smokers." 

(With inputs from ANI)

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