What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is a term used for all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels. The condition restricts blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke. A lot of research indicates that air pollution is contributing to cardiovascular diseases. Whether you live in a city where smog forecasts are routine or in a rural area, tiny pollution particles can lead to big problems for your heart.
How Does Air Pollution Affect Cardiovascular Disease?
Air pollution can make your cardiovascular condition worse or even cause new problems. Pollution affects cardiovascular disease in a similar way to how it affects respiratory diseases. When you inhale polluted air, your lungs are getting inflamed and your body isn’t getting the oxygen that it needs. Harmful air pollutants might also cause permanent heart damage and kill heart tissue.
Cardiovascular Disease and Fine Particles
Inhaling really small pieces of pollution essentially does two things. First, it reduces fibrinolysis (process that prevents blood clots). Second, it increases coagulation (the process of blood changing to a solid or semi-solid state). Based on these two underlying processes, the cardiovascular effects of air pollution are:
- Clotting hypothesis – This idea suggests that inhaling small particles will trigger inflammation. This leads to the production and release of chemicals that activate clotting.
- Neural hypothesis – This idea suggests that pollutants stimulate neural receptors in the lungs. This stimulation then affects the rhythm of the heart, causing irregularities. An irregular heart rate can lead to cardiac arrest and even heart failure.
How to Protect Your Heart from Pollution
A lot of people are dying from cardiovascular diseases influenced by pollution. To understand the risks in your area, talk your doctor and actively seek more resources. Being aware and measuring pollutants is your first line of defense. Take extra precautions if you face exposure to high levels of air pollution on a regular basis.