HealthDay News — Ambient air pollution has short-term effects on specific cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, but not others, according to a study published in Heart.

Ai Milojevic, PhD, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues examined the short-term correlation between ambient air pollution and a range of cardiovascular events. Data were collected from three national databases in England and Wales.

More than 400,000 myocardial infarction (MI) events from the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) database, over two million CVD emergency hospital admissions, and more than 600,000 CVD deaths were linked to daily air pollutant data.

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With respect to mortality outcomes, no CVD outcome analyzed correlated clearly with any pollutant, with the exception of particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter, which correlated with arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary embolism, the researchers found.

Only nitrogen dioxide (NO2) correlated with an increased risk of hospital admission, with a 10th to 90th centile increase correlating with increased risk for CVD (1.7%; 95% CI: 0.9-2.6), non-MI CVD (2%; 95% CI:1.1-2.9), arrhythmias (2.9%;  95% CI: 0.6-5.2), atrial fibrillation (2.8%; 95% CI: 0.3 to 5.4), and heart failure (4.4%; 95% CI:2.0 to 6.8).

An increased risk of MI was seen only for NO2, which was specific for non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (3.6%; 95% CI: 0.4 to 6.9]).

“The strongest associations with air pollution were observed with selected non-MI outcomes,” the researchers wrote.

In an accompanying editorial, Anoop Shah, MD, and David E. Newby, MD, of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, summarized three important take-home points from the latest study data:

  • There is no clear evidence that short-term increases in air pollutants influenced overall CV or HF
  • There is no clear association between ambient air pollutants and death or hospital admission with STEMI, stroke or HF
  • The overall association between air pollutants and CV morbidity and mortality remained unchanged

“The current lack of consistent associations with contemporary UK data may suggest that as the fog begins to clear, the adverse health effects of air pollution are starting to have less of an impact and are more difficult to delineate,” Shah and Newby wrote.


  1. Milojevic S et al. Heart. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2013-304963.
  2. Shah A, Newby DE. Heart. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2014-305877.