Heart failure hospitalization risk may be higher for those living near fracking sites, study finds

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Unconventional natural gas development, or fracking, is a growing industry, and people with heart failure who are exposed to this activity may be at increased risk of hospitalization, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Using EHR data from 9,054 heart failure patients across Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health locations from 2008 to 2015, researchers analyzed the association between unconventional natural gas development activity and hospitalization. Of the 9,054 patients with heart failure, 5,839 were hospitalized. 

Researchers broke down fracking activity into four stages: pad preparation, drilling, stimulation and production. Adjusted odds ratios for hospitalization were 1.70, 0.97, 1.80 and 1.62 for each stage, respectively.

"Our findings suggest that individuals with heart failure, when exposed to greater [unconventional natural gas development] activity, are more likely to be hospitalized, particularly in those with more severe heart failure at baseline," said Tara McAlexander, PhD, study author and research fellow at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia. 

The study also indicated older heart failure patients were more vulnerable to adverse effects related to fracking activity. 

Additional research focused on how environmental exposures may pose risks to people with heart conditions is needed, according to researchers. 

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