New Delhi: Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, according to a large study of 322 Chinese cities. The common arrhythmia conditions atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, which can progress to more serious heart disease, affect an estimated 59.7 million people globally, the researchers said.
Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor for heart disease, but the evidence linking it with arrhythmia has been inconsistent, they said. The researchers evaluated hourly exposure to air pollution and the sudden onset of symptoms of arrhythmia using data from 2025 hospitals in 322 Chinese cities. Renjie Chen, from Fudan University, Shanghai, China, said,
We found that acute exposure to ambient air pollution was associated with increased risk of symptomatic arrhythmia. The risks occurred during the first several hours after exposure and could persist for 24 hours. The exposure–response relationships between six pollutants and four subtypes of arrhythmias were approximately linear without discernible thresholds of concentrations.
The study included 1,90,115 (over 1.9 lakh) patients with acute onset of symptomatic arrhythmia, including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, premature beats and supraventricular tachycardia. Exposure to ambient air pollution was most strongly associated with atrial flutter and supraventricular tachycardia, followed by atrial fibrillation and premature beats, the researchers said.
Among six pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) had the strongest association with all four types of arrhythmias, and the greater the exposure, the stronger the association, they said.
Although the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, the association between air pollution and acute onset of arrhythmia that we observed is biologically plausible. Some evidence has indicated that air pollution alters cardiac electrophysiological activities by inducing oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, affecting multiple membrane channels, as well as impairing autonomic nervous function.
The researchers noted that the association was immediate and underscores the need to protect at-risk people during heavy air pollution.
Our study adds to evidence of adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution, highlighting the importance of further reducing exposure to air pollution and of prompt protection of susceptible populations worldwide.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.