According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to health. A study by the University of Murcia (UMU) and the Murcia Institute for Biosanitary Research (IMIB) shows that continuous exposure to particulate matter, commonly known as PM10 or PM2.5-, increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmia. Cardiac Patients who already suffer from this heart disease have an increased risk of death and stroke.
The increasingly high levels of this particulate matter produced by pollen, soot, smoke and dirt, among other substances, and the continuous increase in the prevalence of this cardiac pathology led the UMU researchers to publish their results in the journal Science of Total Environment. .
Air quality is measured according to these four headings: suspended particles; tropospheric ozone caused by industry and vehicles; Nitrogen dioxide is emitted by utensils; and sulfur dioxide, which is produced by the combustion of fuel. The study evaluates works published over 20 years in which 17 researches have already associated exposure to this pollutant with a greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Health and environmental problem
Microparticles smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter are particularly problematic because they reach deep into the lungs and some can reach the bloodstream. The authors found four studies that showed that increasing exposure to environmental pollutants increases adverse events in patients who already have atrial fibrillation. There is an increase in the risk of mortality and stroke due to mechanisms such as oxidative stress, deterioration of blood vessels, systemic inflammation, mechanisms that in turn increase the probability of developing atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
“In order to reduce air pollution in cities, in addition to ambitious measures, cardiovascular risk exposure strategies are necessary for people who live in areas with low air quality. Since the relationship between exposure to particulate matter and atrial fibrillation seems to be independent of the region of the world according to the results of the studies he has carried out, environmental pollution should be considered as a global risk factor and it is necessary to adopt certain measures to prevent air pollution”, concludes José Miguel Rivera Caravaca, professor of the Faculty of Nursing and Investigator in the Cusco Circle and Experimental Cardiology in the UMU.