How Is Air Pollution Linked to Heart Disease or Heart Attack?

Air pollution is a mixture of gases, liquids and particulate (dust) matter. Clinical research has shown a possible correlation between victims who suffer strokes and their exposure to air pollutants. For example, individuals who live near industries are 52% more likely to experience cardiac problems. These harmful substances may cause the following heart related diseases: atherosclerosis (artery thickening), arterial vasoconstriction (narrowed arteries) and also thrombosis (blocked arteries). Listed below are some of the different types of air pollutants, and you may be shocked to find out that some of them are contained within common household products.

• Nitrogen oxides

These are reactive compounds whose main component is nitric oxide. This specific compound is emitted from vehicle exhaust fumes, power plants and even indoor appliances, such as kerosene heaters. Once these fumes are inhaled, they inflame the walls of the lungs, reducing the body’s immune system and making one more prone to inflammation which can cause bronchitis and heart disease.

 

• Second hand smoke (SHS)
Passive smoking has been declared a risk factor for the development of respiratory problems and chronic heart disease. In fact once smoking in public was banned, local hospitals recorded a 40% drop in heart attacks.

 

• Sulfur oxides

Emissions of large amounts of sulfur oxides contain high concentrations which in turn react with the atmosphere to form fine sulfate particles. Patients who are exposed to sulfate compounds often show early signs of respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis and also accelerate the worsening of pre-existing heart conditions. Patients who suffer from heart conditions are sometimes supplied with vitamin E as a method to possibly break the cycle of radical damage on membranes. Of course, too much Vitamin E can be harmful as well. Sulfur oxides come from the burning of fossil materials such as coal and other related substances in major power plants.

 

• Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is created by the combustion of carbon fuels with a limited supply of oxygen gas. It’s an odorless gas and thus very hard to detect. Once inhaled, it combines with the body’s blood cells (hemoglobin) thus interfering with the normal distribution of oxygen to organs and tissue. This is particularly dangerous to victims who suffer from atherosclerotic disease or other cardiac conditions who are sensitive to changes in the nature of blood cells.

• Particulate matter

Particulate matter is also referred to as particle pollution, and is a mixture of a number of components and compounds, such as metal, dust, smog and organic chemicals. The size of this type of pollution may have a role in causing heart related problems. As these particles make their way to the bloodstream defects may arise, such as an irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function and/or non-fatal heart attacks.

As to whether these pollutants cause heart attacks or cardiac problems, the answer is that it certainly does not help. In fact research shows that continuous exposure may cause some of the pollutants to be absorbed in the bloodstream through the lung tissue. This recent finding begs the question ”is it worth it to secure one’s financial future by working in such an industry even though the money will be spent on medical care, vitamins for heart disease patients and prescription bills?”

Some companies have taken steps to reduce the emission of pollutants by the use of clean energy thus helping rid a dependence on carbon fuels. Other industries fit their cars with a catalytic converter to prevent harmful exhaust gases from entering the atmosphere. This aforementioned strategy greatly reduces emissions of carbon monoxide and lead. May we all work toward securing a greener, better, healthier future by reducing pollution.