American Heart Association

American Heart Association

Source:

Aung SA, et al. Presentation P2315/3096. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 13-15, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Aung and Kaufman report no relevant financial disclosures.
November 18, 2021
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Reduced air pollution, including during pandemic shutdown, tied to drop in STEMI

Source:

Aung SA, et al. Presentation P2315/3096. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 13-15, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Aung and Kaufman report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Reductions in air pollution were associated with lower rates of STEMI, a trend which manifested during the shutdowns at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

Sidney Aung

“Reducing pollution is not only helpful for the environment, it may also have significant health benefits at the population level such as preventing heart attacks,” Sidney Aung, a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a press release.

Graphical depiction of data presented in article
Data were derived from Aung SA, et al. Presentation P2315/3096. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 13-15, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Aung and colleagues calculated U.S. incidents rates of STEMI from 2019 to April 2020; the pandemic-related shutdowns began in March 2020 and some were loosened or lifted by the end of April 2020. In addition, using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obtained in real time from ground-based sensors, the researchers determined average daily fine particulate matter of 2.5 µm or smaller (PM2.5).

The data included 60,722 STEMI events. After multivariable adjustment, for each 10 µg/m3 reduction in PM2.5, there were 6% fewer STEMIs (RR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.9-0.99; P = .016).

The researchers also found that after multivariable adjustment, for each 10 µg/m3 reduction in PM2.5, there were 373.8 fewer STEMIs per 10,000 person-years (95% CI, 69.4-678.1).

“This study highlights the importance of reducing air pollution, which could, in turn, prevent heart attacks,” Aung said in the release. “We also hope our study may influence other investigators to pursue similar research to corroborate these results or to investigate other forms of air pollutants outside of PM2.5 that may have also declined during the pandemic lockdowns.”

Joel D. Kaufman, MD, MPH, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, professor of epidemiology and professor of medicine – general internal medicine, at the University of Washington in Seattle and chair of the writing group for the AHA’s 2020 policy statement on air pollution, said in the release that the results are in line with other studies showing a link between exposure to pollutants and atherosclerosis, MI and stroke, but the extent to which the pandemic-related shutdown played a role remains uncertain.

“It is also possible that other things were going on last year to reduce heart attack triggers — fewer exertional activities or other stressors, for example, that were also a result of the COVID lockdowns,” Kaufman said in the release. “If it turns out that we can meaningfully link a reduction in traffic-related air pollution during COVID lockdowns to a reduction in heart attacks, it points the way toward a major change that could help to reduce the burden of heart disease. We know how to reduce air pollution concentrations and have seen that it is possible.

“This could reinforce the benefits of air pollution reduction as a cost-effective way to improve health,” Kaufman said in the release. “It also means that reducing fossil fuel combustion, which we need to do anyway to combat climate change, may yield tremendous health benefits now, even if the climate benefits take years to accrue.”

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