Heart, lung ailments rise in city as pollution soars

Heart, lung ailments rise in city as pollution soars

The city's rising pollution is now the cause for various diseases that even turns fatal if not kept under check. Doctors say air pollution has emerged as a significant contributor to increasing cases of heart attacks and lung diseases in the city.

According to Dr C N Manjunath, director and head of cardiology of the government-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, around 20% of the heart attack cases admitted to the institute's ICU are directly linked to air pollution. "Most of the patients with heart attacks caused due to air pollution are drivers," he informs.

Dr Manjunath notes that certain particulate matter present in the patients' blood vessels could damage them. "Toxic gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide besides lead are high in the air. This is mainly due to vehicle exhaust," says Dr Adil Sadiq, head of cardiothoracic surgery and senior consultant cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, Sakra World Hospital.

The quantity of polluted air and the duration for which it is inhaled are critical, notes Dr Bhagirath Raghuraman, senior consultant, interventional cardiologist and heart transplant physician, Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences. Drivers and those living near industrial areas are the most affected, he points out.

People with established heart blockages should avoid air pollution since even a low amount of particulate matter may worsen their heart condition, cautions the doctor.

In the words of Dr Sadiq, air pollution also causes hypertension and stroke (paralysis). Around 95% of regular masks do not filter particulate matter less than 10 mc (micrograms per cubic metre) or 25 mc.

According to the doctors, the particulate matter enters the body and starts accumulating over a period of time. This raises risk of blockages or inflammation in the blood vessels. Rising vehicular emission has also led to decreased lung functioning, accelerated aging of lungs and even lung cancer.

All 15 stations monitoring the ambient air quality index of Bengaluru indicated moderate levels of air pollution in April 2016. Such levels, according to Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), are enough to cause breathing discomfort to people with lung and heart diseases in both children and adults. The index also indicated moderate levels of air pollution in 10 of the 15 stations in the beginning of the year.

Doctors are unanimous in their analysis that air pollution is making Bengaluru increasingly unliveable. The government should find a way to control the vehicular pollution, because, as they say, air pollution is as bad as smoking.

 

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