Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital have found that fine dust can increase the risk of acute atrial fibrillation, the hospital said Tuesday.
|Professor Kang Si-hyuk|
Atrial fibrillation, a disease where the atria show rapid and irregular beating, is one of the most common symptoms of arrhythmia, a condition in which the normal rhythm of the heart abruptly changes.
Patients often receive treatment too late as arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, have nonspecific symptoms and features, which, in turn, can cause cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, cerebral infarction, heart attack, heart failure, and even death.
Hypertension, diabetes, basal cardiovascular disease, obesity, drinking, and excessive exercise are known to affect the condition.
To confirm the effects of fine dust on arrhythmias, the team, led by Professor Kang Si-hyuk of the Department of Cardiology, analyzed the short- and long-term effects of air pollution on atrial fibrillation on 124,000 people aged 30 or older and residing in Seoul from 2007 to 2015, for an average of 7.9 years. It received its data from the National Health Insurance Service.
The team found that the daily average ultrafine dust (PM2.5) concentration in Seoul was 25.0 ㎍/㎥ and the fine dust (PM10) concentration was 49.1 ㎍/㎥.
Professor Kang and his team found that when the concentration of PM2.5 increased by 10 μg/㎥, the rate of the emergency room visits due to atrial fibrillation increased 4.5 percent after three days. They, however, found no relation between atrial fibrillation and other air pollutions such as micro dust, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone.
The team also concluded that while long-term exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of other cardiovascular diseases, it had no significant effect on atrial fibrillation.
“Air pollution can lead to atherosclerotic disease in the long term, while in the short term it can destroy the autonomic balance,” Professor Kang said. “Atrial fibrillation is highly associated with autonomic balance as the disease occurs when the heart's heart rate fails.”
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