Air pollution linked with irregular heartbeat and blood clots in the lungs

4 June 2014        

Air pollution on motorway

Being exposed to air pollution could put people at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.

The London-based research found exposure to certain types of pollutants could make someone more likely to develop an irregular heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation, and to develop blood clots in the lungs known as pulmonary embolism.

The findings also showed only nitrogen dioxide was linked to an increased risk of a person being hospitalised due to cardiovascular problems, such as heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

However, researchers found no clear evidence that air pollution increased the risk of heart attacks where an artery is completely blocked (ST- elevation myocardial infarction) or stroke.

Particulate matter in air pollution can have an adverse effect on our cardiovascular health

Julie Ward, our Senior Cardiac Nurse, said: “It has long been recognised that particulate matter in air pollution can have an adverse effect on our cardiovascular health.

“Previous studies have shown it can make existing heart and circulatory conditions, including heart attacks, worse in vulnerable people.

“This research adds weight to what we already know but goes further to suggest a link between air pollution and an increased risk of blood clots in the lungs and the heart rhythm atrial fibrillation.

“But, as with many studies, we do need to look at the bigger picture and although this is a large comprehensive study it did have its limitations. We do, therefore, recognise that further research into exactly how air pollution particles affect the cardiovascular system needs to be carried out.”