UPDATE…October 12, 2020
As we’ve previously noted, air pollution is an ongoing health hazard for all of us, especially individuals living in densely populated urban areas where industrial emissions are typically concentrated.
In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, scientists concluded that “the association between residential-level pollution and stroke risk in the presence of AF appears to be an additional public health toll of pollution and suggests that stroke risk assessment in individuals with AF take into account the contributions of environmental exposures.”
Given the lack of existing research, investigators looked at the association between fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) air pollution and ischemic stroke in individuals with prevalent atrial fibrillation (AF). Conducted in a large healthcare system in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, home to the city of Pittsburgh, this year-long cohort study included over 31,000 individuals with AF. The site of this research was especially significant as the county ranks seventh worst for annual PM2.5 and Pittsburgh is ranked by American Lung Association’s “2019 State of the Air” report as one of the ten most polluted cities in the nation.
Utilizing data from a spatial saturation air pollution monitoring campaign in Allegheny County, researchers noted as well that their findings suggest a dose-dependent association between air pollution and stroke events, which further highlights the importance of air pollution to cardiovascular outcomes relevant to AF.
Our approach to treating any disease is to always advise prevention as the first-line of defense – so modifying risk factors is critical – except clearly this isn’t necessarily possible depending on where we live and the environmental risks our homes or workplace pose. Until there is more effort and advocacy to improve the air quality in our cities, we can only advise patients to make the healthiest choices they can for the things they can control. The original blog that follows provides some of these opportunities and also we invite you to review our article from June of this year that explains just how air pollution enters our brain. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment.
In health and hope,
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
Rhinehart ZJ, Kinnee E, Essien UR, et al. Association of Fine Particulate Matter and Risk of Stroke in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2011760. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.11760