Microscopic particles in polluted air can adversely affect your heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals in people with serious coronary artery disease.
A recent study of 48 Boston-area patients, all of whom had coronary artery disease, used 24-hour Holter monitors to examine electrocardiograms. An elevation in fine particles, from non-traffic as well as traffic sources, and black carbon, a marker for traffic, resulted in a conductivity change called an ST-segment depression, which can indicate inadequate blood flow to the heart or inflamed heart muscle.
The effects were greatest within the first month after hospitalization, and for patients who were hospitalized for a heart attack or had diabetes.
Previous studies have documented that exposure to road traffic can trigger heart attacks, and that particulate air pollution increases the risk for cardiac death.