Smog and arrhythmias: affected in the heart by fine dust. The study of a team of cardiologists from Parma says so

Pollution, and in particular fine particles, are a major contributor to fatal heart arrhythmias, soon after hypertension, smoking and poor diet, and long before high cholesterol, overweight, lack of physical activity, alcohol abuse and malnutrition.

For two years the world cardiologists (and in particular a working group from Boston) have been sounding the alarm, after the nefarious effects of smog on health have been concerned for decades with pulmonologists and oncologists. But now a joint study by specialists from Parma and Piacenza arrives to put pen to paper, numbers in hand, that smog is responsible for one in five deaths from cardiac events.

The study was coordinated by Daniela Aschieri, head of Cardiology at the Piacenza hospital, and by Giampaolo Niccoli, professor of cardiology at our university, and also includes Luca Moderato and Davide Lazzeroni from the Cardiovascular Prevention Center of the Casa della Salute. Parma Center – Don Gnocchi Foundation & Ausl.

Two studies have examined the cardiovascular risk in relation to environmental pollution.

The first study examined the urban daily data of pollutants detected by the Arpa control units in Piacenza from 2011 to 2017 with the data on the use of defibrillators located in the area and the 118 interventions for cardiac arrest (880 in the period considered).

The choice of Piacenza is soon explained: “It is, like Parma, one of the most polluted areas in Europe and has the highest number of defibrillators in the country”, explains Lazzeroni.

The second study followed 136 people with implanted defibrillators for five years, recording the arrhythmias responsible for cardiac arrest.

The results of the two studies were identical: “The risk of fatal arrhythmias increases on average by 37-38% on days when the level of pollution exceeds the safety limits set by the World Health Organization, and in particular it increases with the increase in concentrations of pm 2.5 and pm 10, regardless of the alarm thresholds which, in the European Union, are among the highest in the world ”, explains Lazzeroni.

The hypothesis of cardiologists is that inhaled pollutants increase the inflammation and activity of the sympathetic nervous system, triggering the release of catecholamines, mechanisms that would contribute to increasing the arrhythmic risk.

Previous studies (also by Professor Niccoli) have also linked smog with coronary thrombosis heart attack.

The joint study by the universities of Parma and Piacenza – presented at the Heart Failure Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, held in Madrid, and in virtual form, from 21 to 24 May, and published on 13 June on Netscape – had great echo in many international newspapers and sites, especially in dozens of Indian and Chinese newspapers, two countries that have to face massive pollution, especially in large cities.

«Our study – says Lazzeroni – suggests that the green transition represents a great opportunity to save not only our planet but also those who live there. It is therefore extremely important that politics work hand in hand with the scientific community to win the battle against pollution through which the number of visits to the emergency room for cardiovascular disease could be reduced by about 20% ».

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Smog and arrhythmias: affected in the heart by fine dust. The study of a team of cardiologists from Parma says so

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