Air Pollution Fosters Higher Cardiac Arrest Risks

Study says high levels of air pollution up people's chances of suffering cardiac arrests

This February 18, two statisticians working with the Rice University went public with the news that people who, for one reason or another, spend considerable amounts of time exposed to high levels of air pollution are more likely to experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

Their statements concerning the ways in which environmental pollution impacts on public health were made during a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which took place in Boston.

As reported on the official website for the Rice University, the two statisticians who carried out this investigation, i.e. Katherine Ensor and Loren Raun, have explained how constant exposure to fine particulate matter and ozone makes people more prone to suffering so-called out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

Because of this, the researchers ask that the people living in communities that have previously been labeled as high risk from this standpoint undergo more CPR training than those inhabiting communities where air pollution is not that big of an issue.

“The researchers found that a daily average increase in particulate matter of 6 micrograms per day over two days raised the risk of OHCA [out-of-hospital cardiac arrest] by 4.6 percent, with particular impact on those with pre-existing (and not necessarily cardiac-related) health conditions,” reads the official website for the Rice University.

Furthermore, “Increases in ozone level were similar, but on a shorter timescale: Each increase of 20 parts per billion over one to three hours also increased OHCA risk, with a peak of 4.4 percent. Peak-time risks from both pollutants rose as high as 4.6 percent. Relative risks were higher for men, African-Americans and people over 65.”

Prior to their drawing these conclusions, the researchers focused on analyzing both air quality and the number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests reported in Houston over a period of eight years.

Despite the fact that the researchers also took into consideration chemical compounds such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, none of these was found to up the occurrence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

“The bottom-line goal is to save lives. We'd like to contribute to a refined warning system for at-risk individuals. Blanket warnings about air quality may not be good enough,” Katherine Ensor wished to stress.

“At the same time, we want to enhance our understanding of the health cost of pollution, and celebrate its continuing reduction,” this researcher went on to add.

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