Whether you live in a crowded city like Mumbai, or in a tier-two city in India, did you know that air pollution can lead to big problems for your heart? While most people may be aware of the impact of air pollution on the lungs, it isn’t just your respiratory system that bears the burden. Recent research conducted found that approximately 35% of patients with no conventional cardiovascular-related risk factors suffered from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) due to reasons associated with air pollution. Though anyone can be exposed to pollution, the higher concentration found near road intersections and industrial areas tends to be the most damaging.
Pollution is also known to have inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems. Particles smaller than 2.5 microns are of the greatest concern, these are usually by-products of fuel consumption. Owing to their small size, they irritate the lungs and the blood vessels surrounding the heart. Over time, these pollutants aggravate or increase the process of disease in the arteries.
The editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the world’s leading scientific journals, said, “If we cleaned up the air even more, we could prolong people’s lives.” In a large city, it may be hard to avoid problems caused by air pollution. Here are some suggestions:
- Limit your exposure to air pollution by avoiding exercising near crowded roads or industrial areas.
- Elderly people, and those with pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma are advised to keep tabs on the local air quality index, a color-coded scale for pollution levels that is often reported by local news outlets when planning outdoor activities.