Air pollution from wildfires can trigger cardiac arrest, heart attacks and aggravate the symptoms of other heart diseases, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The smoke from wildfires contains “fine particulate pollution,” particles smaller than 2.5 thousandths of a millimeter – which is smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
The study focused on the connection of cardiac incidents in the state of Victoria, Australia and the exposure related to wildfire’s fine particulate pollution between December 2006 and January 2007, reports Think Progress. During those two months, the levels of pollution exceeded air quality limits, and the smoke from the fires reached towns far from the infernos.
It’s not uncommon for smoke from wildfires to be widespread, exposing people to the inhalation of the particles. Once the particles are inhaled into the lungs the “particles may act as a trigger factor for acute cardiovascular health events,” said study author Anjali Haikerwal, doctoral candidate at the school of public health and preventive medicine at Monash University in Melbourne.
During bushfires there is widespread and huge quantities of smoke, and people are exposed. These particulates can be easily inhaled deep into the lungs. These particles may act as a trigger factor for acute cardiovascular health events.
During the two months of the study, Victoria was victim to a series of wildfires that burned down around 2.4 million acres of land, reports Reuters. In that time, there were 3,274 hospital admissions for coronary artery disease, 2,106 emergency room visits and 457 cardiac arrests that happened outside of a hospital setting.
Although the study was purely observational and did not establish cause and effect, Haikerwal said the results might influence public health messages in areas at risk for wildfires, adding that it’s advisable to “stay indoors,” “maintain medication” and seek immediate assistance if you find yourself worried at any point in time.
We advise the general population (…) to stay indoors, to maintain medication, if they are worried at any stage due to a health condition to seek immediate help.
Residents in Australia currently receive alerts regarding wildfires, but the messaging could target people with preexisting conditions and the elderly, those at the greatest risk.
In an unrelated study reported on here at Immortal News, scientists have discovered that large cities with high levels of air pollution can cause residents to suffer from silent strokes, brain shrinkage, and even dementia.