Research reveals that on days of high pollution, smokers are more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.
A study from the University of Dijon in Burgundy, France shows that when fine particles from air pollution exceed a certain level, there’s a marked increase in hospital admission for heart attack. This is even bigger for people who smoke.
This is one of the first studies to show that exposure to air pollution could be especially dangerous for smokers. The survey involved a group of 322 patients hospitalized for heart attack, of whom nearly half were smokers. The researchers compared the daily incidence of heart attack with the average daily concentrations in the air of particles smaller than 10 micrometers, known as PM10s. They also measured average levels of ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Researchers included the ATMO index, widely used in France as a daily overall indicator of air quality. The index ranges from one to 10, where one indicates very good and 10 very poor. Air pollution levels in Dijon remained under four on the ATMO index 86 percent of the time. While the pollution level rose to six or higher only about 5 percent of the time, or about 18 days a year, heart attacks were 161 percent more likely to occur in the general population and 250 percent more likely in smokers during those high-pollution days. The findings showed that heart patients – and especially those who smoke – should be especially vigilant during episodes of environmental pollution.