Poor air quality leading to increased heart and lung disease - report

Poor air quality is leading to an increase in heart failure, breathing difficulties and asthma suffers being admitted to hospital, a new study shows.
Poor air quality leading to increased heart and lung disease - report
File image of doctor checking an x-ray.
File image of doctor checking an x-ray.

Poor air quality is leading to an increase in heart failure, breathing difficulties and asthma suffers being admitted to hospital, a new study shows.

Cardiovascular (CVD) and respiratory (RSD) diseases are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Ireland. The study lays bare clear links between poor air quality and these diseases.

The study aimed to use routinely available data to examine the relationship between air quality index for health from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and hospital admissions due to these diseases in Dublin city and county over a four-year-period between 2014 and 2018.

The main findings show that there was increased hospital admissions for asthma, COAD, and heart failure with changes in short-term air quality.

These changes were prolonged to varying degrees for both asthma and heart failure.There were significant rises in admissions with changes in air quality from good to very poor for asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and heart failure.

There were also varying significant changes in short-term admission rates, which is up to 72 hours following change in air quality.

The study, published in the Irish Medical Journal, revealed that asthma-related admissions were significantly impacted among those aged up to 17 and between the 18 to 64 years age groups. It also highlighted that heart-failure admissions were significantly impacted among the 18 to 64 years age group.

This study, using routinely gathered data, suggests that in Dublin city, where air quality is predominantly good, that change in ambient levels appears to impact admissions with these diseases.

The detrimental effects of poor air quality on human health came to international public prominence in the early 1990s, as a result of numerous high profile pollution episodes in several countries.

The situation in Ireland was associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and served as the catalyst for introducing the legislation for the smoky coal ban.

A large number of studies have investigated the health risks of poor air quality, and found consistent association between components of ambient air pollution and measures of ill-health.

Co-author of the study Dr Keith Ian Quintyne from the Department of Public Health said: “This study used routinely gathered hospitalisation data collected from the HSE.

"Daily counts of hospital admissions for residents of all ages with an address in Dublin city and county admitted on the same day, 24 hours later, 48 hours later, and 72 hours later were examined.

“This study suggests that in Dublin city and county, where the air quality is relatively good, that when it is not good, there is an impact of hospital admissions for individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and heart failure.

"Also that this routinely gathered information is not sufficient to detect (the overall) impact on certain (sufferers), but it is still a suitable measure for providing and raising awareness for the high-risk groups, children, the elderly and the general population”.

Read the full report here

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