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‘Air pollution major cause of cardiovascular disease’

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[FILES] Air pollution withing the city.

Experts want emission of air pollutants reduced

Leading cardiovascular organisations have called for urgent action to reduce air pollution, which they identified as a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and a major contributor to global disease burden.

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In a joint statement issued at the weekend, the organisations, including World Heart Federation (WHF), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA) and European Society of Cardiology (ESC), urged the medical community and health authorities to mitigate the impact of air pollution on people’s health.

Air pollution also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases, which are known to raise a person’s risk of experiencing some of the more severe consequences of COVID-19.

They said long-term exposure to air pollution is also linked to increased risk of death from COVID-19.

Chairman of World Heart Federation Air Pollution Expert Group and co-author of the statement, Michael Brauer, said: “This dangerous ‘triple threat’ of air pollution, COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease should be taken seriously.

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“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution was an issue of growing concern due to its impact on people’s health, although it was frequently overlooked as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. COVID-19 has brought a new, deadly factor to the equation, and the time has come for the health community to speak up and take action.”

In 2019, an estimated 6.7 million deaths, or 12 per cent of all deaths worldwide, were attributable to outdoor or household air pollution and as many as half of these were due to cardiovascular disease.

The statement called for structural actions to reduce emissions of air pollutants and harmful exposure. It also highlights the important role that healthcare providers play in preventing illnesses related to air pollution.

President of European Society of Cardiology, Prof. Stephan Achenbach, said: “Air pollution is one of the most underestimated causes of heart disease and stroke. More research is urgently required to identify susceptible populations and to determine the optimal methods of improving air quality to benefit cardiovascular health.

“Air pollution needs to be recognised as a major modifiable risk factor in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, and measures to reduce its detrimental short-term and long-term influence on cardiovascular health, potentially over generations, are urgently required.”

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