Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pollution and hospital admissions for heart disease

Short-term exposure to ultrafine particulate air pollution increased the risk of Medicare-age hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, according to a national database study detailed in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Evidence for the health risks of inhaling particles as fine as 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) came from a database of hospital admissions for 11.5 million Medicare enrollees. A new standard for small particles of less than or equal to 2.5µm was established in 1997 by the Environmental Protection Agency in response to growing evidence of adverse health effects from chronic exposure to airborne pollution. But the EPA also maintained the former indicator of PM10 for particulate matter. The PM10 for airborne particles does not protect public health with "an adequate margin of safety."

Hospitalizations included a primary diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease, peripheral and ischemic heart disease, heart rhythm irregularities, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory disease. The largest association was with heart failure.

Cardiovascular effects may reflect neurogenic and inflammatory processes. Animal studies suggest that particulate matter may accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, the researchers said.

Ah. More evidence of the deleterious effects of urban air pollution. You think you're doing everything right: exercising, keeping weight down, eating right, taking prescribed medications, but WHAM! You boost your risk with every breath you take.

EPA Air Pollution Hearing Draws Outcry From Experts, Public Local Citizens And Advocates Call On Administration To Heed Science, Protect Public Health

How does air pollution cause heart disease?

Send a letter to the EPA in support of stronger air pollution standards.


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