Air pollution continues to be a public health concern, and a problem facing society today. In fact, this can be reflected in the Air Quality Index, which has reached an all-time high in the NCR region, resulting in the loss of many lives around the world.

There is now much less awareness that mortality rates around the world are mostly caused by the effects of air quality on the cardiovascular system. According to recent studies, the strength of this association is most notable in low- and middle-income territories, where it is also feared that air pollution will increase due to new forms of industrialization.

In this regard, the experts affirm “More than 90% of the global stroke burden is linked to modifiable risk factors, of which air (Ambient and Household) pollution tops the list. It is important to thus prevent casualties from stroke due to air pollution”.

 

We need to take action on this situation

Prevention is necessary as air pollution tops the list of leading causes of death in emerging economies such as China and India. The study by Global Burden of Disease concludes that, in 2015, 19% of cardiovascular deaths were caused by exposure to polluted air, 21% by stroke, and 24% by ischemic heart disease.

Various analyses of major studies have reported that long-term exposure to PM 2.5 exceeds the current risk of cardiovascular mortality by 11% for every 10 units’ increment. Interestingly, an increased risk was also observed in regions where PM2.5 met the European Union air quality standard of 25 μg/m3. In addition, a higher incidence of blockage of the carotid artery, the main blood vessel supplying the brain with the highest concentration of PM2.5, was observed."

All this damage to the cardiovascular system occurs because air particles adhering to the lungs are ingested by cells called macrophages, leading to an inflammatory reaction in the lung, which eventually spreads to the blood vessels. Subsequently, this leads to a collapse of the blood circulation system, decreasing the heart rate.

For this reason, it is essential that new policies are developed to reduce air pollution levels to meet the standards set by the European Union, which in the future will reduce the risk of mortality from these devastating diseases.