How Does Air Pollution Effect Your Heart Health?

By: Krysten C.

Recent studies show a correlation between air pollution and cardiovascular health. While many are aware of the common reasons for compromised heart health, such as diabetes, drug abuse, heart defects, high blood pressure, stress, etc., air pollution gets away with murder (or at an accessory to murder).

Air pollution is the contamination of air caused by a mixture of compounds in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms. Several studies have established associations between short-term increases in air pollution, as well as long-term air pollution exposure, to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.


Ozone Pollution: This type of air pollution is distinguished by high concentrations of ozone, which  is made up of three oxygen atoms, at ground level.

Particle Pollution: Also know as particle matter (PM), this pollution is a combination of microscopic solids and liquid droplets in the air.


Experimental evidence shows the potential for air pollution to cause and worsen cardiovascular disease. It can cause cardiovascular occurrences such as:

  • Acute vascular dysfunction
  • Alterations in blood rheology
  • Cardiac dysrhythmias
  • Long-term development of atherosclerosis
  • Plaque instability
  • Pulmonary stress and inflammation

Some easy-to-detect cardiovascular effects include:

  • asthma attacks
  • chest pain when inhaling
  • coughing
  • needed medical treatment for lung diseases
  • pulmonary inflammation
  • respiratory infections
  • wheezing


The relative risk of air pollution is small in comparison to the common causes of cardiovascular disease mentioned earlier. However, due to the large effected population, even a modest presence of risk can translate into a significant mortality increase.

Groups at Risk for Air Pollution:

  • Children, teens, anyone 65+
  • People with occupational exposure to dust, gases, or fumes
  • Smokers
  • People with repeat exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Diabetics
  • People with existing lung diseases
  • People of lower income levels

Air Pollution Areas of Risk:

  • Near busy highways/areas of heavy traffic
  • Large cities
  • Urban areas
  • Manufacturing areas
Air Pollution By City

*Information Source: State of the Air 2011, American Lung Association.

If you, or someone you know is a part of any of the above risk groups, consideration to air pollution is important in preventing further cardiovascular harm and even advancing death. By becoming aware of the air quality in your community, place of work, and home, you can help protect yourself against the cause and increase in cardiovascular disease.

Living and loving a clean life should make your heart pitter-patter, not air pollution. Happy, healthy Valentine’s Day.

2 thoughts on “How Does Air Pollution Effect Your Heart Health?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.