A study by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has advised individuals to plan outdoor time around air quality to preserve heart health.
The findings of the ESC Preventive Cardiology was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and posted on the ESC website on Thursday.
Dr Michal Swieczkowski of the Medical University of Bialystok, Poland, author of the study, said that deaths from cardiovascular disease increased on polluted days and two days afterwards.
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“When staying home is not an option, wearing a mask during peak pollution hours and avoiding areas with heavy traffic should be considered,” he said.
Mr Swieczkowski said that the study examined the association between air pollution and death from cardiovascular disease, especially acute coronary syndromes and ischaemic stroke.
He said that the study was conducted in five cities in eastern Poland and mortality data for 2016 to 2020 were obtained from the Central Statistical Office.
“Concentrations of particulate matter (PM)2.5, PM10, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were gathered from the Voivodeship Inspectorate for Environmental Protection.
“The main sources of these pollutants are road traffic and household heaters using coal or wood.
“A time-stratified case-crossover study design was used where for each participant, the researchers compared levels of each pollutant on the day of the week a death occurred (e.g. Wednesday) with pollutant levels on the same day of the week without any deaths (e.g. all remaining Wednesdays) within the same month.
“Using within-participant comparisons between days in the same month eliminated the potential confounding effects of participant characteristics and time trends.
“Similar analyses were conducted for pollution levels one day and two days before a death occurred,” he said.
According to him, during the five-year study, there were a total of 87,990 deaths, of which 34,907, 9,688, and 3,776 were due to cardiovascular disease, acute coronary syndromes and ischaemic stroke, respectively.
“The results show worrying associations between air pollution and death from cardiovascular disease,” he said.
Mr Swieczkowski said policymakers should consider measures to promote clean air including subsidies for upgrading household heating systems and vehicle-free zones.