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Study Suggests Heart Patients Avoid Traffic Pollution

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:23 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Air Pollution, Coronary Heart Disease, Toxic Substances, Heart Attack, Black Carbon


IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / air pollution / author: Saperaud

A new study by Harvard University researchers finds small particles that are found in air pollution can negatively impact heart patients who have coronary heart disease, by impairing the heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals.

“The increase in fine particles from traffic and non-traffic sources and also black carbon, foretells ST-depression segment levels,” said Dr. Diane R. Gold, lead researcher and professor of medicine and environmental health at Harvard Medical School.

The greatest effects were seen within a month following hospitalization and in those patients who suffered a myocardial infarction during hospitalization.

The study was conducted on 48 Boston area patients. 40 percent of the patients had suffered a heart attack in the past, while 25 percent were suffering with diabetes.

The study found that air pollution from cars, industrial plants and trucks has a negative impact on the hearts of these patients.

Using portable EKG machines, researchers observed patients for 24-hours to detect visible changes in ST-segment depression (electrical conductivity of the heart.)

Researchers also examined pollutant levels in Boston over a 24-hour period and determined they were under acceptable ranges, according to National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Increased levels of fine particles also known as PM 2.5 and black carbon were also linked to an increase in ST-segment depression.

The study strongly suggests environmental pollution adds stress to the patient’s heart, Dr. Byron K. Lee a cardiologist at the University of California said. “Patients that have recently suffered a heart attack and those without a completed heart attack should avoid exposure to pollution whenever possible. This may require moving out of the city or staying indoors on smoggy days.”

These patients may require closer monitoring and aggressive medical therapy, said Dr. Samin Sharma, director of interventional cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

The study appears in the September 9 online edition journal Circulation. #

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