Bad air isn’t just rough on your lungs; it’s also bad news for your heart. The World Health Organization declared air pollution to be one of the planet’s most dangerous environmental carcinogens. In fact, heart disease is much more common than cancer.
Sadly, there is now a pile of evidence, sometimes startling, that air pollution plays a role in heart attacks and strokes. A new study suggests air pollution not only worsens cardiovascular disease, but causes it.
Research conducted by Savina Nodari of the University of Brescia, matched hospitalisations for heart problems with air quality records in Brescia. Her findings jibe with the growing recognition that air pollution, especially in the form of harmful particulate matter belched out by vehicles and industry, is hazardous.
Acute exposure to harmful particulate matter is thought to trigger inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that particulate matter can end up in the blood, traveling directly to the heart and causing it to swell and function improperly. Over the long term, people with chronic exposure to air pollution, such as those living near a motorway, are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease including increased blood pressure as well as thicker and harder arteries.
Pollution comes from fossil-fuel burning traffic, factories, power stations, wildfires and even cooking. Therefore, people at risk of heart disease should do their best to take air pollution warnings seriously by, for example, avoiding outdoor exercise in areas with high levels of air pollution as vigorous breathing increases exposure.
The scary thing is, getting a breath of fresh air isn’t as easy as it used to be. We’ve loaded the atmosphere with all kinds of pollutants that have triggered a number of serious atmospheric ills.
How to reduce health risks from air pollution
You could just stay indoors and use a good indoor air purifier OR you could protect your health with air purifier but also do your part to clean up the environmental pollution where it starts! Here are some suggestions:
- Break your automobile addiction! Use public transport or carpool instead. Better yet, ride your bike or use your feet. Even if you left your car at home just once a week, the reduction in emissions would be substantial if everyone did it.
- Combine errands to save fuel and reduce emissions.
- Don’t idle. Parking your car and walking inside is better than using a drive-thru restaurant or bank which requires you to leave the car idling. Idling is running the vehicle instead of turning it off, when it’s sitting still or parked longer than 10 seconds. If we can avoid this just five minutes every day, we could prevent more than two million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That’s like taking 380,000 cars off the road!
- Looking for a new vehicle? Go for a smaller, fuel-efficient model with low emissions for everyday use. This is probably better than getting a larger vehicle for those rare occasions you need something bigger (and which you can rent).
Source: Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013: http://www.escardio.org
SEE ALSO: Your Specialist in Life’s Elixir: Air
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