Where you live could be raising your risk of ‘sudden cardiac arrest’

Cutting down on alcohol intake, keeping fit, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and reducing salt intake are all lifestyle changes that can help promote a healthy heart. A new study suggests living in less polluted areas could also help.

Conducted by the University of Singapore, the study found that tiny particles of air pollution could trigger heart attacks and cardiac arrests. The particles, known as PM2.5, have been linked to a range of health problems.

By studying 18,000 cases of out of hospital cardiac arrests, the team found that 492 of these cases could have been caused by PM2.5. Although this is a small number, it demonstrates the power of air pollution.

Speaking to Science Alert, epidemiologist Joel Aik said: “We have produced clear evidence of a short term association of PM2.5 with out of hospital cardiac arrest, which is a catastrophic event that often results in sudden death.”

Aik added: “These results make it clear that efforts to reduce the levels of air pollution particles…and steps to protect against exposure to these particles, could play a part in reducing sudden cardiac arrests in Singapore’s population, while also reducing the burden on health services.”

Though a Singapore study, it isn’t just a Singapore problem, it’s a worldwide global health crisis in the making.

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Around the world, pollution levels are rising, and big cities like London and Singapore are seeing rising levels of air pollution. This is bad not just for the planet, but for the cardiovascular systems and health services of every single nation concerned.

Alongside this, more and more studies are being published which show a link between air pollution and a series of deadly diseases. In amidst all this the ones likely to feel the choking effects of air pollution are those with cardiovascular conditions such as asthma, or those with weakened immune systems.

Furthermore, there is research to suggest that air pollution can increase your risk of other conditions alongside heart attacks, including those associated with carcinogenic lifestyle habits.

Earlier this year, researchers from the Francis Crick Institute found that air pollution can cause lung cancer, even in people who haven’t smoked.

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Examining data from over 400,000 people they found that exposure to a type of particulate matter known as PM2.5 could promote the growth of cells which contain cancer-causing mutations.

Lung cancer is one of the four most common cancers in the UK and one of the deadliest. Every year, around 48,000 people are diagnosed with the condition and of those diagnosed with the condition, 34,000 will die as a result of the condition.

Despite the high number of people who die and are diagnosed with lung cancer, it is one of the most preventable cancers. Furthermore, although the best way to reduce your risk is to not smoke, there are other ways you can reduce your risk.

In the case of the research conducted by the institute, moving out of a city to a place with cleaner air could be a potential answer and way to reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

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Presented by Professor Charles Swanton in September, the research noted how air pollution causes one in 10 lung cancer cases in the UK. Professor Swanton said: “Cells with cancer-causing mutations accumulate naturally as we age, but they are normally inactive.

“We’ve demonstrated that air pollution wakes these cells up in the lungs, encouraging them to grow and potentially form tumours.”

Professor Swanton added: “The mechanism we’ve identified could ultimately help us to find better ways to prevent and treat lung cancer in never smokers. “If we can stop cells from growing in response to air pollution, we can reduce the risk of lung cancer.”

Co-author of the study Doctor Emilia Lin said: “According to our analysis, increasing air pollution levels increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the mouth and throat. This finding suggests a broader role for cancers caused by inflammation triggered by a carcinogen like air pollution.”

Doctor Lin added: “Even small changes in air pollution levels can affect human health. Some 99 percent of the world’s population lives in areas which exceed annual WHO limits for PM2.5, underlining the public health challenges posed by air pollution across the globe.”

The problem of air pollution is set to become more prominent as the climate crisis worsens and the public becomes affected to a much greater degree. In recent weeks this has been brought to the fore both at a national and international level.

At an international level, representatives from the world’s major economies appeared at COP27.

Meanwhile, protestors Just Stop Oil have been highlighting the impact of the crisis with recent protests on the M25.

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