Bushfires in Australia are frequent events in summers, due to the hot and dry climate. Each year it causes property damage and loss of lives but now it seems to be impacting health conditions relentlessly. Researchers advice that acute heart problems which include heart attacks should also be considered a health risk, that wide-ranging smoke from wildfires has shown.
It’s now a known fact that such hazardous smoke can trigger respiratory conditions like asthma attacks and bronchitis. But now scientists from Australia’s Monash University have discovered that, exposure to fine particulate matter or air pollution — in other words, wildfire smoke is associated with the risk of heart-problems.
During December 2006 & January 2007 – which is a peak time of the Australian summer, wildfires burned approximately 250 million acres in the state.
Evaluating data from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry and the Department of Health and Human Services, they discovered that the particulate concentration from the 25th to the 75th percentile increased resulting in a 6.98% rise in out-of-hospital heart arrests.
The association between particulate pollution and heart arrests was especially prominent in men and in people 65 and older, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Particulate matter that wildfire smoke consists of is less than 2.5 thousandths of a mm in diameter – which is not visible to the naked eye and can cause health problems if inhaled.
PM2.5 altitudes from wildﬁres can conveniently exceed air quality guidelines alloted by the World Health Organization, explained the researchers.
Wildfire smoke can be primarily poisonous due to small sized particles that allow it to perforate way down into the lungs.
“Given the increased incidence and frequency of wildﬁres recently and the increased number of people at risk of smoke exposure, future research is required to investigate the role of fine particulate matter exposure from wildﬁre smoke in triggering acute coronary events,” the researchers wrote.
A massive elevation in the numbers and austerity of wildfires has been observed in recent years, which focalizes on the significance of comprehending the repercussions of wildfire smoke exposure on health, explains the lead author of the study, Dr. Anjali Haikerwal of Monash’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.
“These particles may act as a trigger factor for acute cardiovascular events, therefore its important to not delay seeking medical help if you experience symptoms of heart problems during smoke episodes from wildfires,” she adds.