"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

More people die of heart attacks as heat and pollution increase

July 25, 2023 – A brand new study suggests that 3 in 100 individuals who die of a heart attack can have survived in the event that they had not suffered from high levels of air pollution during a heatwave.

The Results were published on Monday within the magazine TrafficThe study examined weather, air quality and health data in a single province in China, which has 4 distinct seasons and ranging levels of air pollution. The researchers defined extreme heat using a heat index, which is a mix of temperature and humidity.

Health experts have long known that the danger of heart attack increases in hot weather. The researchers wanted to raised understand what number of deaths from heart attacks occur in hot weather and the way particulate air pollution affects that risk. Particulate matter typically comes from automobile exhaust, factory emissions or wildfires and could be inhaled deep into the lungs, ultimately affecting the blood vessels around the guts.

The risk of a heart attack increases with rising temperatures, the duration of the warmth wave and increasing air pollution. For example, the danger of a heart attack increases:

  • Increased by 18% during two-day heat waves when the warmth index rose above 28 °C.
  • Increased by 74% during four-day heat waves when the warmth index rose above 94°F.

If a heat wave is accompanied by high levels of effective dust within the air, these risks even double.

Women and the elderly are most liable to heart attacks as a result of the double threat of maximum heat and rising levels of effective particulate matter within the air. The findings come at a very timely time, as parts of the U.S. struggle with record heat and dangerous air quality levels as a result of the Canadian wildfires.

“Our findings provide evidence that reducing exposure to extreme temperatures and particulate matter pollution may be useful in preventing premature deaths from heart attacks, particularly in women and older adults,” said researcher Yuewei Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology on the School of Public Health at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, in a opinion.

Liu said that in extreme heat, people should follow the weather report, stay indoors, use fans and air conditioners, dress appropriately for the weather, drink enough water and use blinds and shutters to cut back indoor temperatures. On days when particulate matter levels soar, people should use air purifiers indoors, wear masks outdoors, avoid being outdoors near busy highways and select less strenuous outdoor activities.