Tel Aviv University researchers reported Wednesday that air pollution increases the risk of reiterated heart attacks by 40%.
The research highlights that polluted air is associated not only to heart attacks but also to stroke and, on the long run, to reiterated episodes.
Patients living in highly polluted areas have a 43% greater chance of having a recurrent infarction, and 46% greater chance of having another stroke, when compared to patients living in less polluted areas.
They were also 35 per cent more likely to die within the two decades of an initial heart attack.
“Because we are using data from monitoring stations, it’s a crude estimate of exposure, which most likely leads to an underestimation of the association,” Yariv Gerber, of TAU's public health school, told the Eureka Alert science news service.
The 19-year study followed 1120 people who had suffered initial heart attacks in 1992 and 1993, and had been under 65 years of age at the time. They were followed until 2011.
Air quality was measured at 21 monitoring stations in areas where the subjects lived, and analysed by researchers who adjusted for factors such as socioeconomic status and disease severity.
“If you are talking about long-term exposure and an inflammatory system that is irritated chronically, pollution may well be involved in the progression of atrial sclerosis [hardening of heart tissue] that manifests in cardiac events,” Gerber said.