London: Exposure to high pollution levels is not only harmful to overall health, it also increases your chances of a heart attack. But such risk fades after six hours. Studies suggest that high pollution levels are associated with premature death from heart disease, but the link to a heightened risk of cardiac attack may not be so obvious.

Krishnan Bhaskaran, Epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues reviewed 79,288 heart attack cases from 2003 to 2006 and exposure, by the hour, to pollution levels, says a report.

The authors used the UK National Air Quality Archive to investigate the levels of specific pollutants in the atmosphere. These included pollutant particles (PM10), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone.

Higher levels of PM10 and NO2 are well-known markers of traffic related pollution, says Bhaskaran, according to a London School statement.

The study authors conclude that “given other evidence that exposure to air pollution increases overall mortality and morbidity (diseased state), the case for stringent controls on pollutant levels remains strong.”

(Agencies)