It’s time to skip town and prevent your heart from skipping a beat – air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart arrhythmias

Air pollution, especially particulate matter, is associated with cardiovascular events. This study investigated if air pollution could trigger a type of heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation (AF) among people with existing heart problems. AF is the most common form of arrhythmia and the risk of AF increases with age. It can be symptomless but can lead to heart attack or stroke. The study participants included 176 heart patients who had implantable cardioverter defibrillators. During the next two years air pollution levels were monitored to see if air pollution affected when the participants had episodes of AF. During follow-up 49 people had 328 AF episodes. With each six microgram per cubic meter increase in fine particulate matter pollution the odds of AF within two hours increased by 26%. The study took place in Boston, which has relatively clean air. This makes the results all the more troubling, lead author Mark Link told Reuters Health.

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