The World Heart Federation (WHF) , the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) , the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have published a joint document urging the international community and health authorities to mitigate the impact of air pollution on people’s health.
And, according to the four organizations, around 50% of deaths caused by air pollution are due to cardiovascular diseases , such as heart attack, thrombi or heart failure.
Specifically, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the dirty air we breathe is responsible for 25% of global deaths from heart disease and 24% of deaths from stroke , which is included within cardiovascular accidents .
In Spain, this set of ailments is the leading cause of death . According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), they caused 120,859 deaths in 2018 (last year with complete data), which represents 28.3% of the total. And of these, half of the deaths could be caused by pollution, given that Spain is home to some of the dirtiest cities in the EU .
In fact, a recent ISGlobal study places Madrid as the city with the most deaths due to nitrogen dioxide , caused mainly by vehicle emissions, in a ranking of 1,000 cities in which Barcelona ranks sixth.
Scientific evidence shows that contamination can damage all organs and decrease life expectancy by about two years. And it mainly causes cardiovascular diseases because “the small pollutant particles travel through the bloodstream damaging the interior of the vessel walls, which narrow and become more rigid, thus favoring the possibility of an increase in blood pressure , blood clotting. blood and the appearance of abnormal heart rhythms ”, according to Dr. Jordi Bañeras , spokesman for the Spanish Heart Foundation, which supports the manifesto of international organizations.
“Pollution favors thrombosis, inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction of the arteries”, adds the also cardiologist from the critical unit of the Hospital Vall d’Hebrón .
The warning from the main associations of cardiologists coincides with the publication of an investigation that warns that one in five deaths in the world is caused by pollution caused by fine particles from fossil fuels , known as PM2.5, caused by gasoline and diesel but also by coal or other pollutants emitted by the industry. And in Spain they cause almost 11% of all deaths.
Deaths caused by domestic pollution are also very worrying . According to the WHO, around 3.8 million people die each year in the world due to the air breathed in homes, of which 45% are also due to heart disease or stroke. And, according to the Spanish Heart Foundation, smoking inside poorly ventilated homes causes pollution levels 100 times higher than acceptable.