Exposure to small-particle air pollution (PM2.5) is associated with an increased risk of irregular heartbeats in otherwise healthy adolescents, a study of more than 300 US teenagers has found.
The findings reveal that cardiac arrhythmias appear to be triggered even when air pollution is within quality limits.
Participants were given heart monitors and mobile air sampling kits to carry for 24 hours, regardless of whether they were indoors or outside, sedentary or active. Doctors then monitored heart activity and the air breathed by the teenagers.
The monitors captured two types of arrhythmia that can make people feel their heart has skipped a beat.
The research found that the risk of irregular heartbeats within two hours of exposure increased by 5% for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre increase in PM2.5.
While arrhythmias are rarely treated unless they cause symptoms, they can raise the risk of heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and sudden cardiac death later in life.
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