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Business News/ News / Why do non-smokers get heart attacks? This research says it’s air pollution
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Why do non-smokers get heart attacks? This research says it’s air pollution

A recent study has found a correlation between air pollution and non-smokers getting a heart attack. Read here

A view of the skyscrapers covered in smog amid rising air pollution, in Noida (Hindustan Times)Premium
A view of the skyscrapers covered in smog amid rising air pollution, in Noida (Hindustan Times)

Why do non-smokers get heart attacks? Is there a correlation between air pollution and non-smokers getting a heart attack? What does happen to the smokers who are continuously intoxicating themselves with the pollutants? All these questions have been answered in a new study. The study says that regular smokers, who already inhale smoke, were unaffected by polluted air, indicating a causal relationship between air pollution and heart attacks in them.

Study author Dr Insa de Buhr-Stockburger of Berlin Brandenburg Myocardial Infarction Registry (B2HIR), Germany said, "The correlation between air pollution and heart attacks in our study was absent in smokers."

The study indicated that bad air, or air pollution, can cause a heart attack since regular smokers, who are continuously intoxicating themselves with the air pollutants, seem less affected by the external pollutants.

“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," the study author said.

This 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. Nitric oxide originates from combustion at high temperatures, in particular from diesel vehicles. Combustion is also a source of PM10, along with abrasion from brakes and tyres, and dust.

The research included 17,873 patients with a myocardial infarction between 2008 and 2014 enrolled in the B2HIR.2 Daily numbers of acute myocardial infarctions (also known as heart attack) were extracted from the B2HIR database along with baseline patient characteristics including sex, age, smoking status, and diabetes. Daily PM10 and nitric oxide concentrations throughout the city were obtained from the Senate of Berlin. 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.

The researchers analysed the connection between the incidence of heart attacks and average pollutant concentrations on the same day, the previous day, and an average of the three preceding days among all patients. Relation between the incidence of heart attacks and weather parameters were also analysed.

WHAT DID STUDY FIND?

1. According to the study, heart attacks were more common regarding pollution on days with high nitric oxide concentrations.

2. Heart attacks were also more common when there was a high average PM10 concentration over the three preceding days.

3. The incidence of heart attacks in smokers was unaffected by nitric oxide and PM10 concentrations.

4. Heart attacks were significantly related to the maximum temperature.

Dr. de Buhr-Stockburger said, "The study indicates that dirty air is a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction (heart attacks) 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 (heart attacks), given that nitric oxide and PM10 promote inflammation, atherosclerosis is partly caused by inflammatory processes, and no associations were found in smokers."

(With agency inputs)

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Published: 23 Aug 2022, 08:56 PM IST
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