Heat waves and air pollution may double the risk of fatal heart attacks

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As the world becomes hotter due to climate change, and our air gets filled with tiny dust particles from cars, factories, and fires, it’s becoming riskier for our hearts.

We all know that pollution isn’t good for us. It’s the same with extreme heat. But did you know that when these two mix, they can become twice as dangerous?

A group of Chinese researchers just released a new report showing how dangerous this mix could be.

They looked at the records of more than 200,000 people who had passed away from heart attacks in Jiangsu province, China.

This place has very hot summers and very cold winters, and the air can sometimes be very dirty with tiny dust particles. These tiny particles are so small that we can easily breathe them into our lungs.

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Heatwaves, Dust Particles, and Heart Attacks

The team found that during the hottest days, when the air was also filled with tiny particles, people were twice as likely to die from a heart attack.

To be specific, this happened when the temperature was in the hottest 10% of days. These were the kind of days when even walking outside could make you feel like you’re baking.

What’s more, the longer these hot, dusty days lasted, the worse the risk got. The team found that if these conditions lasted for four days straight, the risk of dying from a heart attack was 74% higher.

On the other hand, when it was very cold outside, even if the air was still dirty, it did not increase the risk of dying from a heart attack in the same way.

Some Are More at Risk than Others: Women and the Elderly

In this study, women and older people were the most affected.

If you were a woman or over 80 years old, you were more likely to have a heart attack during a heatwave, a cold snap, or on a very dusty day. In fact, half of the people who died from heart attacks were over 80 years old.

The researchers think that up to 3 out of every 100 heart attack deaths could be caused by this mix of heat and dust. This is a big deal, especially when you think about how many people this could affect worldwide.

What Can We Do About It?

We can’t change the weather, but there are some things we can do to protect ourselves. The researchers suggest that during hot, dusty days, it’s better to stay inside, use a fan or air conditioner, and drink lots of water.

When the sun is out, we can close the blinds to keep our homes cooler. On dusty days, it’s better to avoid heavy traffic and hard physical work outside.

The researchers also want the government to consider the air pollution levels when they issue extreme heat warnings. This way, people can be more prepared and protect themselves better.

Of course, this study has its limits. It only looked at one region in China, and people in other places might react differently to heat and dust.

The researchers also didn’t look at what people did to protect themselves, like staying indoors or using an air conditioner. So, we still need more studies to confirm these findings.

But one thing is clear: as our world gets hotter and more polluted, we need to pay more attention to our hearts.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease, stroke, and results showing that a year of committed exercise in middle age reversed worrisome heart failure.

The study was published in Circulation.

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