Smoke From Wildfires Might Lead To Heart Attacks

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

brushfireAn Australian study proposes that wildfires might increase risk for cardiac arrest and other acute heart ailments by nearly seven percent, especially in the elderly.

A time-stratified-case-crossover study looked at cardiovascular health effects of wildfire smoke when combined with ambient air from brushfires surrounding Victoria, Australia in 2006-2007, according to Anjali Haikerwal, MBBS, MPH, of Monash University in Melbourne, and colleagues.

The study measured associations with out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and admissions for Ischemic Heart Disease after two days of exposure to wildfire smoke. The smoke containing particulate matter can disperse over large ranges of area, affecting large numbers of the population. The 2006-2007 timeframe was especially problematic in the Victoria area involving over one million hectares of land and lasting for sixty days.

Previous epidemiological studies of this nature were inconclusive but this recent study shows a different conclusion.

“Their data support previous findings of increased cardiovascular hospital admissions during increased air pollution exposure, and basic studies showing that particulate contamination can alter autonomic activity and negatively affect cardiovascular health,” said Alfred Bove, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, in an interview.

“The findings indicate that patients should be made aware of an increased risk for cardiovascular events during times when air pollution is particularly severe, whether from wildfires, heavy vehicle traffic or other exposures,” he told MedPage Today.

The study provides public health agencies with evidence and impetus to address the effects of wildland fires in areas prone to such events and to increase awareness of the public and medical professionals. It stresses also the need to be vigilant of vulnerable persons who might experience life threatening cardiac events and not just lung ailments.

By Darren Smith


MedPage Today

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27 thoughts on “Smoke From Wildfires Might Lead To Heart Attacks”

  1. DBQ: Do you think the arsonists will listen to Gov Brown? The crazy fire bugs seem to come out every year. Sure, arson is illegal, but if Gov Brown has banned wildfires, maybe that will make all the difference. 🙂

    Olly: That’s a good one!

    Paul: He has to get in line behind Obama, the Nobel Peace Price Laureate.

  2. California Gov. Jerry Brown proposes a ban on wildfires due to the government created water shortage


    Is he proposing to ban lightening, thunderstorms and high winds? Because those are the greatest starters of wildfires and usually start them in remote inaccessible areas.

    If Jerry Brown has the power to control Mother Nature and ban wildfires, I would be impressed.


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