After being inhaled into the lungs, minute harmful particles enter the bloodstream and contribute to the inflammation that occurs. Diesel exhaust, brake pads, tire dust, and road grime are the sources of these emissions. They are referred to as PM2.5s, and research has connected them to cardiovascular disease in adults.
The findings of this study, which were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, are the first to demonstrate that they are responsible for arrhythmias in young people.
Our findings relating air pollution to abnormal heart rhythms show that particulate matter may contribute to the risk of sudden cardiac mortality among young, according to the lead author, Dr. Fan He of Penn State University.
When pollutants are breathed in, they irritate the lungs as well as the blood vessels that surround the heart. They have a cumulative effect that speeds up the disease process in the arteries over time.
An examination of the heart rhythms of 322 teenagers over a period of 24 hours revealed that 79% of them exhibited at least one abnormal heart rhythm.
Dr. He commented that “it is disconcerting that we were able to observe such a significant influence of air pollution on cardiac arrhythmias when the air quality remained well within the health-based guidelines established by the EPA” (which refers to the United States Environmental Protection Agency).
“It may suggest that teenagers who live in severely polluted places such as inner cities are at an even higher risk.” [Citation needed]
On days when there is a significant concentration of particulate matter, he noted, “Protective measures, such as wearing masks and avoiding strong physical activities, may be needed.”
Professor Robert Brook, who is affiliated with the American Heart Association (AHA), advocated for stricter guidelines regarding air quality.
He made the following statement: “PM2.5 levels have declined considerably since the 1970s and 1980s thanks to regulations that have been undeniably connected to improved health impacts and life expectancy.”
“We listed in a recent AHA scientific statement activities or behavioral adjustments that may limit pollution exposure. These included things like exercising during non-peak hours, using facemasks, respirators, and portable air cleaners.
“However, there have been no studies to demonstrate that these precautions can in fact prevent serious clinical health outcomes like heart attacks,”
A study that was conducted earlier this year indicated that air pollution in urban places across the globe caused to the additional deaths of 1.8 million people in 2019.
In addition, Professor Brook mentioned that “the most relevant part of this study is definitely that the results were discovered in healthy young teenagers.”
“The study provides additional evidence to support the concern that even healthy young people are not immune to deleterious cardiovascular reactions to PM2.5, even at exposure levels that are under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for 24 hours established by the EPA.
“It is likely that the findings assist explain the potential explanation for the time of onset of arrhythmias and even sudden death in some sensitive young persons,” the authors write. “[T]here is a strong possibility that the findings shed light on this topic.”
Dr. He and his colleagues are also investigating the effect that air pollution has on several different markers of the electrical activity of the heart.