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Study claims tiny particles in the air can cause sudden heart attacks

Updated Dec 5th, 2022 1:19PM EST
illustration of 3D human heart
Image: paul / Adobe

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A new study suggests that tiny particles in the air may cause sudden heart attacks. The study, which researchers published in The Lancet Public Health, notes that particles 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair can be easily inhaled. And when inhaled, these particles have been linked to a slew of health issues, including autoimmune diseases and heart failure.

The researchers tracked pollution levels in Singapore against more than 18,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests between July 2010 and 2018. Based on statistical analysis, the researchers were able to connect 492 cases to high concentrations of a particle known as PM2.5. Based on these findings, the researchers believe that PM2.5 levels can lead to an increased chance of sudden heart attacks.

This study is, of course, only observation. This means that we can only speculate on what the relationship between sudden heart attacks and levels of PM2.5 pollution truly means. But, if the research does gain more traction and evidence, we could be looking at a scary indicator of what’s to come if those pollution levels continue to grow.

factory pollution in sky
Pollution in the air may be leading to cardiac arrest. Image source: Николай Григорьев / Adobe

The researchers also note that there was a clear drop in the risk of having a sudden heart attack. While this link might seem silly, there is a lot of data to suggest that the link between the two is worth exploring in more depth. Data showed that daily PM2.5 concentrations average out at around 18.44 micrograms per cubic meter.

From here, the researchers tested the reductions in air pollution and discovered that a 1 microgram per cubic meter drop seemed to correlate to an eight percent reduction in sudden heart attacks. A drop of 3 micrograms per cubic meter saw a 30 percent reduction. There are a lot of hypotheticals involved around it, but it raises good questions about how PM2.5 might correlate to sudden heart attack events.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen links between things like pollution or the foods we eat and the chance of heart attacks. Recently, researchers slammed older studies citing red meat as a health risk. It’s possible this could all be a coincidence, but the data seems to point towards a correlation between PM2.5 and sudden heart attacks.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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