Air pollution spikes linked to irregular heartbeats, study finds

(The Guardian, 1 May 2023) Study of 200,000 Chinese hospital admissions finds acute exposure to air pollution raises risk of heart arrhythmias.

Spikes in air pollution increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmias, a large study has found.

The research, based on nearly 200,000 hospital admissions in China, found a significant increase in risk of arrhythmias in the first few hours after an increase in air pollution levels. Heart arrhythmias can increase the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death.

“We found that acute exposure to ambient air pollution was associated with increased risk of symptomatic arrhythmia,” said Dr Renjie Chen of Fudan University in Shanghai. “The risks occurred during the first several hours after exposure and could persist for 24 hours.”

A study last year reported a link between fine particulate air pollution and cardiac arrhythmias in otherwise healthy teenagers, and confirmed that this translates to a meaningful health risk. The study also suggested that the exposure risk from six pollutants was roughly linear without an obvious safe threshold.

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The Guardian, 1 May 2023: Air pollution spikes linked to irregular heartbeats, study finds