Wednesday, August 10

More heart attacks, arrhythmias and asthma due to pollution

Air pollution also causes sick. Although it does not carry as much weight as other risk factors, pollution is already considered responsible for many diseases respiratory and cardiovascular because the majority of the world’s population is exposed to it. The suspended particles less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5 particulate matter) and less than 10 microns (PM10), which include organic chemicals, dust, soot and metals and which come from cars, factories, wood burning or other activities, affect the Health of people. “PM2.5 are the ones with the most scientific evidence that they affect health. They cause cardiovascular diseases”, says the cardiologist at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital Jordi Bañeras. The days when there are pollution episodes the emergencies receive more myocardial attacks (heart attacks) and more serious ones, assures Bañeras.

Pollutants enter people’s bodies through the respiratory system. They reach the lungs, but they end passing into the blood. And that is where they cause different reactions, “especially prothrombotic and oxidative stress processes that damage cells.” “These pollutants cause a inflammation of the body, just like cholesterol or high blood pressure. This can cause heart attacks myocardial u other heart diseases “, Explains Bathtubs. In other words, pollution does not only affect the lungs. In fact, the organ most affected by this is the heart system. “There is more heart disease from pollution than respiratory disease”, assures this cardiologist. At a scientific level, air pollution is recognized as a cardiovascular risk factor, such as tobacco, unhealthy diets or sedentary lifestyle. “Living in a polluting environment is another risk factor”, insists.

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“Not good”

“Breathing polluted air is not good. It is obvious that sometimes we do not take into account, “says the pulmonologist at the Hospital Clínic. Àlvar Agustí, specialist in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). On days when there is an increase in pollution, the consultations to the emergencies of hospitals for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, corroborates Agustí. And there are also studies that show that cities that have managed to reduce air pollution figures they have improved the breathing capacity of children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) tightened in September the allowed limits of air pollution, which annually causes seven million premature deaths, especially in countries with fewer resources. Regarding the nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the maximum goes from 40 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter (the EU agrees with those top 40, for now). In Barcelona, ​​NO2 levels were 41.1 micrograms per cubic meter in October, according to the website contaminació.barcelona. The fine particles (PM 2.5) they were reduced from 10 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter and in June (last month for which the web offers data) of 15.3. Barcelona would avoid 1,500 deaths a year if it met WHO standards, according to the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).

What diseases does it cause?

Arrhythmias, heart attacks and heart failure they are the most frequent diseases caused by pollution. But also asthma. “On kids It has been seen that those who live in contaminated areas, being adolescents, have more asthma or less lung capacity. This type of alterations can be demonstrated more easily in children than in adults, because in this last population group they usually intervene other risk factors “, he says for his part Maria Jesus Cruz, Head of the Pneumology Research Group at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). Contamination can aggravate existing respiratory pathologies, but also worsen the health of healthy people, the latter idea that takes more relevance although it is more difficult to demonstrate.

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In the more industrialized countries, According to Cruz, asthma has been increasing since last 10 or 15 years. “We do studies focused on asthma and environmental pollution and we see that diesel particles increase the asthma and even the allergies. When an allergen is inhaled concomitantly with diesel particles, that allergy becomes more powerful “, adds this pulmonologist. Almost half of Catalans will be allergic by 2050, according to a study carried out two years ago by the Al.lergo Center. , and this is due to increased pollution.

What is there to do?

Agustí is clear about it: “You have to change society.” According to him, society must achieve “less pollution”. “The current climate change debate has a lot to do with pollution,” he says. In addition, especially in episodes of contamination, doctors recommend wearing a mask and that people at risk do not go out into the street. “Pollution is not the most powerful risk factor, but the problem here is that we are all exposed to it. It is not such a powerful factor that it causes so much disease, but since we are all exposed, it can do a lot of damage. Solutions should be put, “adds Bañeras.

The contamination does not appear in the clinic history of patients as a risk factor. The hospitals do not have specific units dedicated to these patients, but are treated in cardiovascular disease units, for example. “It is very difficult to prove that you have had a heart attack due to contamination. Although we do have identified some people who live in contaminated areas who have suffered a heart attack, although it may also be due to other things, “concludes Bañeras.

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