Air pollution increases risk of heart arrhythmias

Published 2009-05-14 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[PRESS RELEASE, 13 May 2009] It is well known that ambient air pollution is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and increased cardiovascular mortality. However, the details of how, when, who and even how much still remains unclear. In a novel doctoral thesis from Karolinska Institutet, scientists now have answered some of these questions by identifying groups within the population with an increased sensitivity to the effects of air pollution.

Petter Ljungman
Petter LjungmanPhoto: Private

Amongst other variabels, they have studied the relationship between air pollution levels 2 and 24 hours preceding ventricular arrhythmias in 211 patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators in the cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg. The result showed an increased risk for heart ventricular arrhythmias after only 2 hours of exposure to particulate pollution. Interaction analyses showed strongest effects for events occurring closer to the monitoring station, outdoors and in downtown Gothenburg.

Doctoral thesis:

Graduate student, MD Petter Ljungman, Department of Clinical Science and Education.

Cardiovascular Effects of Short-term Exposure to Air Pollution

Supervisors were Associate Professor Tom Bellander, Institute of Environmental Medicine and Professor Mårten Rosenqvist, Department of Clinical Science and Education. Public deffence will take place on May 15, 2009. Faculty opponent is Associate Professor Murray A. Mittleman, Harvard Medical School.

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