Air pol­lu­tion emerg­ing as third ma­jor risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease

The Free Press Journal - - MUMBAI - SWAPNIL MISHRA /

Air pol­lu­tion is emerg­ing as the third ma­jor risk fac­tor for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases (CVD) in In­dia. It is per­haps lag­ging be­hind only the two tra­di­tional rea­sons be­lieved to cause heart ail­ments so far - poor di­etary habits and blood pres­sure.

Th­ese are the find­ings of a re­puted in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal jour­nal, Lancet Global Health, pub­lished in its lat­est edi­tion. Health ex­perts from the All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sci­ence (AIIMS) and In­dian Coun­cil Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR) col­lected the In­dia spe­cific data from the med­i­cal jour­nals pub­lished in the past 25 years.

They an­a­lysed the data of chang­ing trends, life­style pat­terns, in­ci­dence, deaths due to heart dis­eases and risk fac­tors in the coun­try from 1990 to 2016. Data re­vealed that lead­ing risk fac­tors for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases in 2016 in­cluded di­etary risks (56.4 per cent), hy­per­ten­sion (54.6 per cent) and air pol­lu­tion (31.1 per cent). The find­ings noted that car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases con­trib­uted to 28.1 per cent of to­tal deaths and 14.1 per cent of Dis­abil­ity-Ad­justed Life Years (DALYs) in In­dia in 2016, com­pared with 15.2 per cent and 6.9 per cent re­spec­tively in 1990.

Hin­duja Health­care's con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist, Dr Sne­hil Mishra said, al­most 25 per cent of heart

dis­eases oc­cur in peo­ple with no tra­di­tional risk fac­tors. There is grow­ing ev­i­dence that air pol­lu­tion is strongly linked to heart dis­ease and this may be one of the ‘un­known’ causes of a num­ber of

heart at­tacks.

“Small par­tic­u­late mat­ter and many toxic chem­i­cals re­leased in the air from ve­hi­cles and in­dus­tries have been shown to dam­age the ar­ter­ies sup­ply­ing the heart. El­derly, women and pa­tients al­ready suf­fer­ing from car­diac is­sues are at higher risk to be af­fected by air pol­lu­tion and hence they must es­pe­cially take care dur­ing times of the day when air pol­lu­tion con­cen­tra­tion is known to be high, added Dr Mishra.

The study has clearly stated that the ex­po­sure to am­bi­ent air pol­lu­tion in­creased in In­dia to vary­ing de­grees in dif­fer­ent states from 1990 to 2016. In the past two-and-half decades, cases of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease have in­creased in In­dia, from 2.57 crore in 1990 to 5.47 crore in 2016, with 13 lakh and 28 lakh deaths in the cor­re­spond­ing years re­spec­tively.

Dr Rahul Gupta, con­sul­tant, car­di­ol­ogy, Apollo Hos­pi­tals, Navi Mum­bai said toxic gases in the air can in­di­rectly im­pact the en­dothe­lium, which makes up the in­ner lin­ing of blood ves­sels. This, along with free rad­i­cals gen­er­ated in the body dam­age the in­ner lin­ing of the blood ves­sels, re­sult­ing in choles­terol de­posits in th­ese ar­eas, which can cause de­vel­op­ment of plaque.

“Any kind of pol­lu­tant, such as car­bon monox­ide and heavy me­tal ( for ex­am­ple cad­mium is present in tyres) along with traf­fic pol­lu­tion, burn­ing, crack­ers, cig­a­rette smoke etc all lead to toxic pol­lu­tant leak­age in the at­mos­phere. When th­ese are in­haled, it makes the ar­ter­ies stiff which causes choles­terol and plaque build-up, re­sult­ing in heart is­sues,” added Dr Gupta

He fur­ther added, pol­lu­tion has to be ad­dressed by gov­ern­ment poli­cies. What peo­ple can do is to try and keep away from cig­a­rette smoke, in­dus­trial smoke and ar­eas with heavy pol­lu­tion. “Since ex­po­sure to toxic air is beyond our con­trol be­cause th­ese are en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, what we can also do is make our bod­ies stronger by prac­tis­ing a healthy life­style, good diet, liv­ing a stress-free life­style, man­ag­ing blood pres­sure, keep­ing weight in check, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly. This will help keep the body strong and re­duce the dam­age caused by air pol­lu­tants,” Dr Gupta said.

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