Air pollution linked to early death in heart attack survivors

20 February 2013

Air pollution increases the chances of heart attack survivors dying early, according to new research.

Higher levels of tiny sooty particles from road traffic emissions led to more deaths among acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients after they had left hospital.

Experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied the records of more than 154,000 people treated for heart attacks and angina between 2004 and 2007.

Exposure to man-made pollution increased death rates among survivors of ACS by 12 per cent, the researchers found, equating to nearly 5,000 extra deaths.

The research, published in the European Heart Journal, focused on PM2.5 – tiny particulate matter caused by emissions from road traffic and industry, including power generation.

Dr Cathryn Tonne, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said: "We found that for every ten microgram increase in PM2.5 per cubic metre of air, there was a 20 per cent increase in the death rate.

"For example, over one year of follow-up after patients had been admitted to hospital with acute coronary syndrome, there would be 20 per cent more deaths among patients exposed to PM2.5 levels of 20 micrograms per cubic metre of air, compared to patients exposed to levels of half that amount."

Patients living in London had the highest exposure to air pollution levels, the researchers found.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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