Older woman working out inside.

How Air Pollution Harms Heart Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease. In fact, heart disease is the top cause of death for Americans. February is American Heart Month, so we’re focusing on heart health and how it can be affected by your indoor air quality.

How Air Pollution Affects Cardiovascular Health

The negative effects of air pollution have been studied for many years. The American Heart Association released a statement citing the negative effects of air pollution on heart health in 2004 and expanded on this statement in 2010. In 2017 a scientific article published in the US National Library of Medicine concluded that particulate matter commonly found in air pollution was harmful to cardiovascular health.

Common Sources of Air Pollution

Older adults or those already struggling with heart conditions are more at risk for the repercussions. Location also has an effect on our overall heart health—according to the American Heart Association, there is a noticeable increase in deaths and hospitalizations around urban cities with high concentrations of smog, such as Los Angeles.

Common sources of air pollution include:

  • Traffic
  • Power plants
  • Wildfires
  • Factories
  • Smoking
  • Wood stoves

While anyone can be exposed to air pollution, people who live near freeways and intersections or factories are more at risk.

Short Term vs. Long Term Effects of Air Pollution

There are many ways that air pollution affects your heart health—and some more immediate than others. Short-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Those most susceptible to these include the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

According to the American Heart Association, long-term exposure to air pollution “facilitates atherosclerosis development and progression”, increases the risk of death due to heart failure, and could even play a role in high blood pressure and diabetes.

Simple Habits for Heart Health

Improving your heart health can seem daunting, but small actions every day help build healthy habits that last a lifetime. Here are some easy ways to improve your heart health over time:

  • Eat smart! Lower your sodium intake and substitute sugary drinks for water to feel fuller longer and avoid energy spikes and crashes.
  • Increase physical activity. You don’t have to go run a marathon—starting with a simple walk around the block can get you started on a long-term journey with fitness.
  • Learn to manage stress. Stress can lead to depression, which can make it feel difficult or even impossible to do small things to care for yourself. Managing stress in healthy ways decreases the likelihood of developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, and overeating.

3 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality

There are many ways to help improve your home’s indoor air quality and protect the heart and respiratory health of your family.

Increase and Improve Ventilation

Ventilation helps to flush out old, stale air and reduce the level of contaminants inside. Opening windows and doors is a natural way to increase the ventilation in your home. Be aware of where you live—smog from intersections and smoke from fires decrease air quality.

Control and Eliminate Sources of Pollution

The best way to improve your indoor air quality is to eliminate sources of pollution from your home. Change your air filter every 30 to 90 days to help clean air move through your HVAC system easily and have gas appliances regularly serviced to ensure they aren’t giving off harmful emissions.

Invest in an Air Cleaner

The effectiveness of air cleaners and purifiers depends greatly on your needs and goals. Our highly trained, NATE-certified technicians will evaluate your needs and help you decide on the best fit for your home. Schedule your service online or contact our team by phone at (775) 800-5500 to take the first step towards cleaner air and a healthier home!

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