Worst Kind of Heart Attack Linked to Air Pollution, Experts Say

MURRAY, Utah (GOOD 4 Utah)- Medical experts from Intermountain Medical Center met Wednesday morning to discuss recent findings linking increased short term air pollution in the Beehive state to serious health problems.

“It primarily effects the worst kind of heart attack, which is STEMI heart attack,  where there is a very severe affect on specific vessels of the heart that can cause the major pumping chamber to stop,” said Dr. Benjamin Horne, Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Dr. Horne and a team of medical experts have been studying air pollution and health along the Wasatch Front for over a decade. They know that on bad air days they can count on an increase of people admitted to the hospital.

“It’s just something that we’ve become used to. That we see higher activity for heart attack and chest pain and people whose hearts are laboring more to pump the right amount of blood out to the body–that they come in not feeling well,” said Dr. Horne.

From their research they’ve found those most at risk are people with underlying heart disease. “A lot of people don’t necessarily know if they have it, but we know the risk factors. People who are older, people who have high cholesterol, or blood pressure or diabetes and especially smokers,” said Dr. Horne.

Their findings have led the team to develop a care process model to help physicians understand what can be done during consultations with patients.

“We’ve developed some fact sheets for people with heart disease, or stroke, or asthma and COPD, and pregnant women that air pollution tends to effect these groups more,” said Dr. Horne.

Fact sheets, common sense guidelines and more information on air quality and health can be found here.

The full study can be found here.