It seems like wildfire smoke damages the heart. This is what a new study conducted in Australia claims. While it is a known fact that smoke can damage the lungs, there was no research claiming that it damages the heart too.
Researchers at the Occupational and Environmental Health Center at Victoria’s Monash University have discovered that wildfire smoke not only causes great harm on your lungs. The smoke from wildfires also damages the heart and may even cause cardiac arrests, strokes and other diseases of the heart.
The scientists faced some issues trying to figure out exactly how the smoke makes its way to the heart. It’s a lot easier when it comes to lungs and smoke. Anjali Haikerwal, however, the study’s lead author, said that the team of researchers was able to look into the effects it has on the heart. They discovered that small particles which are in high concentration inside smoke can be quite easily inhaled. And once they find their way into a person’s lungs, those particles can harm the heart by weakening its muscles quite drastically.
Because the particles are small, they could enter the blood stream with ease and create irreversible damage where they end up. These particles are no bigger than 2.5 micrometers. Studies regarding these small particles have been conducted near highways or power plants where exhaust was present in high concentrations.
In 2007 and 2006 there were 2.5 million acres of land destroyed by wildfires in Australia, in just around two months. Scientists analyzed the medical records from the hospitals nearby. They looked for cases regarding hear-arrests which happened to people who were over 35.
The researchers then connected the data gathered with information on the intensity and spread of wildfires. By doing so they discovered which areas had the highest pollution at the time. They discovered 457 cases of heart attacks which happened outside the hospitals, around 2,100 emergency visits and about 3,300 admissions in the hospitals for coronary artery diseases.
They then applied the gathered data inside a chart which revealed that the higher the concentration of particles was, the higher was the risks of suffering strokes in men over 65 years old. This was also the case with coronary artery diseases in women patients. The findings reveal that the density of the fire particles is significantly greater in wildfires than in the emissions coming from power plants and cars.
The recent study wraps up by saying people shouldn’t go outdoors when wildfires occur, the elderly in particular.
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