Prolonged exposure to low air pollution increases the risk of heart and lung damage in older adults Photo: iStock Images
New Delhi: Detection of air pollution is one of the latest threats to health. As pollution levels rise around the world, in some places more than others, researchers are discovering different ways of air pollution that can cause short-term and long-term damage to health. A new study now suggests that long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution can cause serious health problems, including heart and lung damage.
Researchers reviewed the medical records of more than 63 million patients, from 2000 to 2016. It was found that prolonged exposure to even low levels of air pollution led to an increased risk of pneumonia, heart attack, stroke and irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. .
The threat was found to be greater for the elderly, according to a study published in the journal Circulation.
Researchers also looked at air pollutants – fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. Each unit of increase in the levels of these pollutants was associated with thousands of hospital admissions per year, the research showed.
Higher risks of heart attack, stroke, a-fib and flutter, as well as pneumonia are associated with prolonged exposure to particles.
Similarly, long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide is associated with an increased risk of stroke and a-fib.
The findings of the study highlight the need to consider air pollution as a major risk factor for heart and lung disease.
“People should be aware of the air quality in the region they live in to avoid harmful exposure over extended periods of time, if possible,” said lead author Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
“Because our study found adverse effects below levels below current U.S. standards, clinicians should consider air pollution a risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and policymakers should review current standards for air pollutants,” she added in the news release.