Air pollution is a factor causing heart attacks: Study

Air pollution is a factor causing heart attacks: Study

Representation image.

For years, cholesterol and hypertension were attributed to be the biggest causes of heart attacks. But now, air pollution is said to be another major cause. Cardiologists in the city have expressed concern that worsening ambient air quality is causing cardiovascular ailments to people in their 40s. The concerns were shared with the public health practitioners during the day-long deliberations on ‘Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) prevention and control in Karnataka’ organised by the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) on Thursday.

The shocking findings were conveyed by cardiologist and director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research Dr C N Manjunath who blamed frequent traffic snarls for the poor quality of air in Bengaluru. “Air pollution is the latest and emerging risk factors for cardiovascular problems. In fact, air pollution, along with hypertension is much more aggressive than the cholesterol deposition,” he expressed.

Elaborating, Dr Manjunath explained, “Particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers will get absorbed into the blood and deposited along the blood vessels. It even affects the beta cells of pancreas affecting insulin production. All of this will manifest in heat attacks which have been seen in patients who were diagnosed at Jayadeva.” The researchers at Jayadeva have already studied the effect of air pollution on about 500 traffic policemen and in a few days are subjecting around 500 autorickshaw drivers to various tests. 

Dr Manjunath’s remark has also given a new twist to the raging controversy surrounding the construction of the steel flyover. “People in their protests against infrastructure projects like steel flyover and road widening, have failed to understand the long term problems. Trees can be planted elsewhere and compared to the benefits that the public get, the number of trees that will pave way for projects are very few. Around 300 to 400 trees will not serve many purposes. Instead, the need of the hour is to change the public mindset and decongest traffic across the city,” he clarified.

He also compared the situation with that of West Asian countries where despite the high density of vehicles, the air quality has remained constant.

Dr Giridhara R Babu, professor and Head Lifecourse Epidemiology, PHFI said, “Our preliminary investigations have revealed that most of the people who were part of the study were indeed victims of air pollution, both outdoor and indoor. The studies were conducted on women in Srirampuram and Bagalur areas.” The findings revealed that areas in Bengaluru West had accounted for a higher concentration of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres and 10 micrometres. Similarly, the areas in Bengaluru East accounted for highest concentration for carbon monoxide.