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

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

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

  1. Olly:

    I have to resist the urge to bang my forehead on the table when I think about how we’re waisting $65 billion (and that estimate keeps rising) on a vacation train to San Francisco that all studies estimate will have very low ridership. Meanwhile, we have not build a single reservoir, aqueduct, or network of cisterns. They did recently make home rain barrels legal, so there’s that.

    We’re in a drought, Gov Brown has mandated water cuts so severe that farmers have had their wells cap and lost their livelihoods. Meanwhile, there are still swimming pools and fountains burbling outside shopping centers. We just had a huge storm, most of which drained right out to see. We’re set to have a nice El Nino tropical storm season, a gem for parched CA. And yet, we still are not frantically building aqueducts to catch that life sustaining water.

    We’re too busy taking property by eminent domain to build a vacation train to pay the unions off who got Brown elected.

  2. Well, I believe it. Smoke in general contains carcinogens, but the particulates cause many health problems, too.

    I know I have difficulties during our annual fire season.

  3. Cigarette smoking is dangerous. Hazard to your health. Does that mean anything to you?

    –Bob Marley

  4. There was a monkey who smoked pot and drank alcohol. He had an accident which he brought on to himself. Someone wrote a song about it. Here are the lyrics:

    We went to the Animal Fair!
    The birds and beasts were there.
    The old baboon by the ight of the moon..
    Was combing his auburn hair.

    The monkey he got drunk!
    And fell on the elephant’s trunk.
    The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees…
    And that was the end of The Monk, The Monk, The Monk!

  5. Well, this seems like a paradox to me!

    Blowing Smoke???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once was some smoke from a fire,
    Which made my blood pressure go higher!
    Sooo, I mixed it with smoke,
    From a wee little toke,
    Now my blood pressure’s down, but I’m higher.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Olly

      What’s brown and sounds like a bell?

      I would cook with dung but I like my e coli fresh.

      Shouldn’t there be some genuine Indian cuisine in the streets of NYC now that deblahsio wants to go soft on the squatters?

      Well, they do call part of it “The Villiage”.

  6. Last month while visiting my sister in West Central WI, I awoke one morning to what I thought was thick fog and a distinct smell of smoke. Found out it was the wildfires up in Canada. The air quality was rated unhealthy for two days in that part of the state, which prompted us to turn on the air conditioning, despite the cool temps which are often so wonderful in that part of the state.

    Bill H, a pulse-ox of 58% is very very low, hope you’re doing better. Makes me wonder if normal filters would filter out these unhealthy particulates.

  7. Paul

    Most modern wood stoves have catalytic filters that eliminate almost all emmissions.

    So is all your mesquite smoked bbq sent down to Mexico for prossessing?

      1. Paul

        My grandparents used to live in Carefree but things have changed a lot down there I’m sure.

        So does anyone else remember not being able to go outside for recess because of the ash from Mt St Helens?

  8. I really don’t know where the Australians have been. Here in Maricopa County were we live in a valley, we have No Burn days and it is illegal to burn wood in your fireplace. We have been having No Burn Days for the last 15 years, at least.

  9. California Gov. Jerry Brown proposes a ban on wildfires due to the government created water shortage. He says that the state is committed to the high-speed rail to nowhere project and will not divert funds to upgrade water storage capacity as it would only increase demand for a resource that is better used to flush fish to the ocean. By placing a ban on wildfires he will save the precious little water the state is receiving during drought conditions. This move is seen as a stroke of genius by environmentalists that have long sought to end the practice of landscaping or crop production. “Fish will be saved, air will be cleaner and by the time the high-speed rail is completed in 2030, the central valley will have returned to being a natural habitat.” Said the Governor, “Creating a utopia is hard work but that’s why I was elected.”


  10. The adverse health effects of breathing smoke form wood burning have been around for many years. From the EPA (sorry EPA haters):

    Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of
    problems, including:
    • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways,
    coughing, or difficulty breathing;
    • decreased lung function;
    • aggravated asthma;
    • development of chronic bronchitis;
    • irregular heartbeat;
    • nonfatal heart attacks; and
    • premature death in people with heart or lung disease.


    ‘Wood smoke contains fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Wood smoke also contains chemicals known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin.

    Wood smoke interferes with normal lung development in infants and children. It also increases children’s risk of lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.’

    While parents wouldn’t normally want their children sitting around a picnic table of smokers because of the health effects of second hand smoke, they are more than happy (or ignorant) of having those same children sitting downwind of wood burning fire pits, fireplaces, and the like. The unaware or unconcerned burn wood in dense neighborhoods that effects their neighbors health and well being with the yelp of ‘It’s my property and I can do as I damn well want.’

    I enjoy watching a good campfire burning, but it is important to realize that those fires should be burned in areas that do not effect others, since the health consequences are real and shouldn’t be ignored.

  11. Then add in almost 7 years of vile hot air from Republicans distracting the public away from their shame. Then add in Donald Trump. That adds more than a 7% increase in heart attacks. If Christie gets going then it will approach plague proportions.

  12. Well, it certainly leads to an increased risk of excerbation of emphysema problems. In 2007 I was hospitalized with an oxygen level of 58%. My wife says that when she sees the first San Diego headline with the word “fire” in it she is dragging me to the airport by my hair and putting me on the first plane for the East Coast.

    She’s kidding, of course. Um, I think.

  13. The rare inch of July rain SoCal got yesterday should help some tickers.

  14. Warn all dumbschmucks to stop smoking tobacco. The pipe or the cigar do not look masculine. You may be a big boy but you are killing self and others.

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