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Foul air killing more early with heart diseases: Study | Mumbai News – Times of India


MUMBAI: In an indicator that polluted air is now a major killer, a new research paper shows a 31% increase in premature deaths due to air pollution-linked heart diseases worldwide over three decades.

Around 26 lakh people died prematurely due to cardiovascular diseases arising out of exposure to particulate matter in 1990, while the number rose to 35 lakh in 2019, says a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. This increase is unevenly distributed, with a 43% rise among men and 28.2% rise among women.

heart diseases

A previous study had estimated that 16.7 lakh deaths in India in 2019 could be attributed to air pollution-not just due to heart diseases arising out of exposure-accounting for 17.8% of the total deaths in the country.
‘More living longer with disability caused by foul air’
With a global study finding a 31% increase in premature deaths due to air pollution-linked heart diseases in three decades, doctors have called for better monitoring of the effects of air pollution in the country.
Delhi-based Polash Mukerjee, formerly with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “The global trend of increasing cardiovascular deaths due to air pollutants is disturbing. Based on our work in various Indian states, it can be said that we underreport air pollution-linked diseases and mortality.” While air quality monitoring in India has seen a robust development in the last five years, there is a need for similar improvement in monitoring air pollution-linked health outcomes, he said.
The ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’ study analysed data from the Global Diseases Burden study data gathered from 204 countries, and also found that more people than before were living longer with disability caused by air pollution. “Regions with higher socioeconomic conditions had the lowest number of lost years of life due to cardiovascular disease attributed to PM pollution, yet also the highest number of years lived with disability. The opposite was true in regions with lower socioeconomic conditions, with more lives lost and fewer years lived with disability,” said the study.
Exposure to air pollutants, especially the smaller microscopic matter, affects the lungs so much that people suffer from repeated infections or poor lung function.
City pulmonologist Dr Salil Bendre said inhaling air pollutants reduces lung elasticity. “Pollutants affect mucous clearance and make one more prone to repeated infections,” he added. Children could be the worst sufferers as they could experience growth retardation, deficit in school work and suffer repeated infections. “The youth could suffer economically as exposure to air pollutants could result in infections that lead to loss in work hours while the elderly would suffer increased hospitalisations,” said Dr Bendre, adding that the effect of air pollution on young women needs to be looked at closely.
India also needs to focus on air pollutants other than particulate matter, said Mukerjee.



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