Does Air Quality Affect Heart Health?

February is all about heart. There’s Valentine’s Day, with all the love, heart-shaped chocolates, and last-minute dinner reservations that go along with it.

But it’s also American Heart Month. And It turns out unrequited love is not the biggest threat to your heart this time of year.

It may be air pollution.

As we discussed in a previous post, cold winter air can increase pollution and worsen the quality of air that you’re breathing in. Which makes chilly February the perfect time to take a closer look at the link between air quality and heart health.

The Full Impact of Air Pollution

Respiratory problems get all the press when it comes to analyzing the effects of poor air quality, but heart issues are just as serious.

According to the EPA, there is a direct link between air pollution and atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the coronary artery. This can lead to heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, and even kidney problems.

The effects of pollution can be immediate or long-term. For the elderly or those already dealing with heart disease, being exposed to polluted air can quickly make their conditions worse. And for those who spend years in polluted environments whether at work, home or on their commutes, the damage can build up and lead to problems down the road.

 To put it simply, the connection between long-term exposure to air pollution and heart disease should be taken seriously. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your exposure to air pollution, and find ways to minimize your risk.

American Heart Month

Of course, there are many more factors to heart health than air pollution. Here are a few general tips for improving heart health, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

  • Encourage family members to make small changes, like using spices to season their foods instead of salt.
  • Motivate kids to get active every day, and start good habits early in their lives.
  • Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to ensure a lifetime of good heart health.

Sources

https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx

https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/linking-air-pollution-and-heart-disease

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Air-Pollution-and-Heart-Disease-Stroke_UCM_442923_Article.jsp#.WmjIN5M-eRs

 

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