The risk of a heart attack is greatest on days when air pollution is high, according to an Italian study using data from 11,450 hospitalizations for heart attack between 2002 and 2005. Researchers found a significant uptick in hospitalizations over the next two days after an increase in fine particle emissions. These particles are small enough that they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs causing inflammation in blood vessels.
The link between heart attacks and pollution was highest among persons age 75 and older, and those with lung diseases or high blood pressure.
[SOURCE: “More evidence air pollution may be a heart risk,” Reuters Health, June 22, 2011; American Journal of Epidemiology, July, 2011]