Ambulance calls for heart attacks are more frequent on days when air pollution levels are high, according to new research presented at Euroanaesthesia, the annual meeting of the European Society of Anesthesiology and Critical Care (ESAIC ), held online this year (Dec. 17-19). Warmer weather, however, is associated with fewer heart attacks.
Fluctuations in air pollution levels and changing weather conditions are already known to affect health1.2. Increased air pollution, for example, can make heart and respiratory problems worse.
Understanding these links better could help hospitals better plan for changing weather conditions associated with climate change.
In the first such study in Europe, Sabine Weingast and colleagues at the Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Germany, examined the links between calls from EMS (physician-assisted ambulances) to acute coronary heart disease (ACS) and weather conditions and air pollution levels.
ACS is an umbrella term for heart attacks and unstable angina, which can lead to a heart attack. It is one of the most common causes of death in Germany and of EMS calls, making it a good marker of pressure on the health service.
Almost a third (3,818) of the 12,073 EMS calls in the Munich-Riem area of Munich from 2014 to 2017 concerned ACS.
Consideration of data provided by the German weather service in Munich revealed that calls for ACS were more likely when air pollution was high.
Increases in carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide were all associated with an increase in ACS.
The analysis also found that there were fewer EMS calls at higher temperatures, including less for ACS.
There was, however, no connection between the ACS and other weather conditions, such as hours of sunshine, wind speed, and cloud cover.
The study’s authors state: “Consistent with studies from other countries, we found significant correlations between weather parameters, air pollution, and EMS shipments due to ACS.
“These results show that weather conditions and air pollution influence people’s health, medical resources and health care costs.”
Ms. Weingast adds: “Studies on how hospitals can be better prepared for fluctuations in demand due to weather conditions and air pollution are urgently needed.
“The results of these will allow them to allocate staff and other medical resources based on weather forecasts and help ensure that patients receive the care they need.
“Further research on reducing air pollution levels is also needed. “
European Journal of Anesthesiology
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