Smoke coming from wildfire has been found to be causing heart problems, in addition to previous studies linking it to the increase in asthma cases.
The study looking at the association between wildfire smoke or air pollutant in the form of fine particule matter and coronary diseases was conducted at the Monash University of Melbourne, Australia.
The co-author of the study, Anjali Haikerwal commented:
“While breathing wildfire smoke is linked to respiratory problems such as asthma, evidence of an association between wildfire smoke exposure and heart problems has been inconsistent”.
The study looked at the state of Victoria, where wildfires are a common occurrence due to the climate of the state, the droughts and the type of vegetation. The study spanned only two summer months, December 2006, as well as January 2007.
During this period, 1 million hectares in the state of Victoria were engulfed in the smoke of wildfires sparking across. The danger to communities, while not immediate, was posed by the wildfire smoke and the fine particles is carried on large distances, to the cities limitrophe to the wildfire areas.
Fine particles are under 2.5 thousandths of one millimeter in diameter. Nonetheless, these wildfire smoke fine particles pose serious health risks if they enter the eyes or the respiratory system.
To understand the relationship between fine particle concentration in the air and heart problems, the researchers looked at several datasets. Several comprised data on visits to the emergency departments connected to heart problems during the two months, as well as hospital admissions on the base of heart problems and cardiac arrests out-of hospital.
Then, the researchers looked at the fine particle air concentration during the two months in question. They found that over the course of only two days, the fine particle air concentration spiked from 25 percent to 75 percent. In the same two-day period, the cardiac arrests occurring out-of-hospital increased by 6.9 percent.
Emergency department visits linked to heart problems also spiked 2.07 percent. Hospital admission related to ischemic disease increased by 1.86 percent.
Several analyses of the data sets led to the same conclusion. Fine particle air concentration due to wildfire smoke is linked to an increased risk of heart problems, particularly for the elderly.
According to the authors:
“The knowledge and evidence resulting from such research will inform policy and practice and help build capacity in the understanding and management of adverse cardiovascular health impacts in vulnerable communities during wildfire episodes”.
With higher temperatures and drier summer, often ridden by drought, wildfires becoming increasingly common. Not only in Australia, but in the U.S. as well.
Therefore, the CDC also recommends that communities are on the lookout for wildfire smoke in order to protect themselves from extra factors that affect the health. Following air quality reports, as well as visibility guides is recommended.
The results of the study can be examined in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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