Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beijing Pollution May Trigger Heart Attacks, Strokes

Date:
July 22, 2008
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
The heavily polluted air in Beijing may trigger serious cardiovascular problems for some spectators. Researchers warn that for people in certain risk groups, breathing high levels of pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours of exposure and increase the possibility of having blood clots in their legs on the plane home. Research shows that high pollution levels can cause hyperclotting of the blood, spurring stokes and heart attacks.

Olympic athletes aren't the only ones who need to be concerned about the heavily polluted air in Beijing. The dirty air may trigger serious cardiovascular problems for some spectators.

Two researchers in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine warn that for people in certain risk groups, breathing high levels of pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours of exposure and increase the possibility of having blood clots in their legs on the plane home.

The people who are vulnerable include those who already have known cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lung disease, a current smoking habit or a family member diagnosed with heart disease before age 55.

"If the air quality is bad, you are more likely to have serious heart disease related events," said Gokhan Mutlu, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern's Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Being exposed to higher levels of pollution may unmask heart disease even if you've never had any symptoms."

Why pollution causes heart attacks, strokes and blood clots

Mutlu published research in 2007 that showed how pollution triggers heart attacks and strokes. He discovered that microscopic air pollution -- particles less than one-tenth of the diameter of a human hair -- makes the blood thicker and sticky. He found when lungs are inflamed by pollution, they secrete a substance, interleukin-6, which causes an increased tendency for blood to clot.

Previous studies have shown that thousands of people in the U.S. die from strokes and heart attacks within 24 hours of a spike in microscopic pollution from the exhaust of diesel trucks, buses and coal-burning factories.

A more recent study has shown that people who live in polluted areas are more likely to have blood clots in their legs. Traveling long distances by car or plane is known to put people at risk for these clots.

"If you spend a few weeks in Beijing, your blood might become thicker and sticky and then when you fly 12 hours back to the U.S. that further increases your risk. If clots migrate into the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, that can kill you," Mutlu warned.

How to protect yourself at Olympics

Scott Budinger, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern's Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, offered several ways for people to lower their risk at the Olympics.

Men over 40 should take an aspirin each day to prevent their blood from becoming thick and sticky. While the benefits of aspirin are less certain for women, he said it probably wouldn't hurt for them to take one, too.

Stay indoors during traffic rush-hour periods. "Indoor air pollution levels are always much lower than outdoor, so staying inside will limit your exposure," Budinger said. He cautioned that Beijing's definition of mild pollution would be a pollution alert day in the U.S.

On the plane, especially the return flight, frequently walk up and down the aisles and do leg exercises in your seat to prevent blood from pooling in the legs and clots from forming.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Beijing Pollution May Trigger Heart Attacks, Strokes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721102807.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2008, July 22). Beijing Pollution May Trigger Heart Attacks, Strokes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721102807.htm
Northwestern University. "Beijing Pollution May Trigger Heart Attacks, Strokes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721102807.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins