Italian researchers have discovered that on days when air pollution levels are higher, the risk of developing dangerous arrhythmias increases.
A new Italian study shows that on days when air pollution levels are particularly high, life-threatening arrhythmias are more likely to occur. In addition, smog is one of the major threats to public health; Just think that every year it kills about 7 million people, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that each of us lose 2.2 years of life due to air pollution. In addition to raising the risks of respiratory infections (particularly in children), ischemic heart disease, and stroke, smog can also lead to life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
To determine the link between life-threatening arrhythmias and air pollution, an Italian research team led by doctors and scientists from Ospedale Maggiore in Bologna, in collaboration with colleagues from the Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPA) and other institutes. The researchers, coordinated by physicians Alicia Zani and Luca Moderato, focused on patients from northern Italy equipped with an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), a device capable of activating in the presence of arrhythmias and saving lives by regulating heart function. More specifically, they followed patients residing in Plaisance, a city ranked 307 out of 323 by the European Environment Agency for “average annual concentrations of PM 2.5 in 2019 and 2020”, with a figure of 20.8 mcg/m3.
Previously, researchers noticed an abnormal concentration of arrhythmias in patients with ICDs on the most polluted days, so they decided to follow up with a customized study. They participated in about 150 ICD patients between 2013 and 2017 and collected data on ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation events, comparing them to the concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 detected by monitoring stations. During the follow-up period, 440 ventricular arrhythmias occurred, of which 322 were treated with antiarrhythmics and 118 were shocked to stop fibrillation. Crossing all the data, a clear association between cardiac events and contamination emerged: for example, for per μg/m3 PM 2.5 above average, the risk of ventricular arrhythmias would have to be addressed by shock. When pollution persisted above average levels for a week, the risk of arrhythmias increased by 2.4%. An increase in PM 10 also led to a 2.1% increase in the risk of arrhythmias.
“Our study suggests that people at high risk of ventricular arrhythmias, such as those with an ICD, should check their daily contamination levels,” Dr. Alicia Zani said in a press release. “When particle concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are high (greater than 35 µg/m3 and 50 µg/m3, respectively), it would be reasonable to stay indoors as much as possible and wear an N95 mask (FFP2 NDR equivalent) outdoors. , especially in high traffic areas. An air purifier can be used at home.” “Particles can cause severe inflammation of the heart muscle which can lead to an irregular heartbeat,” Dr. Zani said, stressing the importance of green projects to protect people’s health. Details of the research “Particle exposure and risk of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with CDI” were presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Heart Failure 2022 Conference.