Study finds possible culprit of pollution-associated heart attacks and stroke

Harvard researchers found particle radioactivity may be a cause of pollution-associated heart attacks and strokes, the American Heart Association reported Oct. 5.

The study, published in Journal of the American Heart Association, found particle radioactivity, a characteristic of air pollution that reflects the gas radon found in fine particulate matter (PM2.5), increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and enhances toxicity of PM2.5. 

Based on the middle 50 percent of data, particle radioactivity exposure alone was associated with a 16 percent increased risk of death from heart attack, 11 percent increased risk of death from stroke, and 7 percent increased risk of death from all types of cardiovascular disease.

"These findings suggest that particle radioactivity increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and enhances the damage from particulate matter. This must be further investigated and may lead to targeted, cost-effective air quality regulations," study author Shuxin Dong, a PhD student in population health sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in the press release.

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