Air pollution is more harmful to the heart than cholesterol or being overweight


Air pollution is the fourth risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, ahead of cholesterol, being overweight or sedentary. Only having high blood pressure, smoking or eating poorly causes more mortality, according to the study Taking a stand against air poluttion – The impact on cardiovascular disease, published in 2019. The Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) clings to this evidence, at the start of its annual congress, to urge the creation of a new subdiscipline in hospitals: “environmental cardiology”.


Madrid is the European city with the highest mortality due to pollution from cars

Madrid is the European city with the highest mortality due to pollution from cars

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50% of the deaths attributable to air pollution in 2019 occurred for reasons related to the heart or blood vessels, the president of the SEC, Ángel Cequier, accompanied by three specialists, recalled at a press conference. One of them, Ana Navas-Acién, epidemiologist and professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University York, has called with “urgency” for a “paradigm shift” to “include environmental exposures as a risk factor and develop public health strategies “.

“At present, the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease basically focuses on the control of the classic risk factors: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, being overweight and smoking”, explained Navas- A hundred. “Breathing polluted air is like eating badly. And even eating, we eat less but breathing, we have to breathe,” said Dr. Julián Pérez Villacastín, from the Hospital Clínico San Carlos and president-elect of the SEC, another of the participants at the press conference prior to the start of the Congress.



The World Health Organization estimates that 31% of cardiovascular diseases could be prevented if environmental pollutants were removed. The Spanish Society of Cardiology wants to push for contamination problems to be the objective of public health policies, as they have been up to now, but also to join “hospital settings”.

Creating a subspecialty to specifically address this risk factor is something pioneer in the world, beyond “small groups” that are working in the United States in “clinical interventions that can tackle environmental problems”, such as chelation, a therapy to eliminate the heavy metals in the body.

A study carried out with 1,700 patients from the United States and Canada concluded that this treatment reduced the chances of heart attack by 18% and the benefits soared especially in diabetic patients, according to Dr. Navas-Acién. 55,222 infusions were performed over 55 months, between placebos and chelating drugs. The FDA has requested, the epidemiologist added, a second analysis.

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