If you've been following the blog for awhile, you'll know that my husband had a heart attack on February 1st. Of course, since then we've been looking into causes and risk factors. The following article is about something I never realized before: how bad air quality can affect your heart.
You need air to breathe, and you are inhaling and exhaling it every moment of your life. If you are taking pollution into your lungs and body every time you take a breath, it can take its toll on your health. Bad air quality can lead to many ailments, including lung problems, asthma, cancer, and heart disease.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart or cardiovascular diseases are caused by blocked blood vessels that reduce blood-flow to your brain, heart, and other body parts. The heart is made up of valves designed to open and close easily when all systems are healthy. If vessels and valves are unhealthy, it can be a life-threatening situation. Some signs to look out for include, but are not limited to:
- Chest pain
- Pain in jaw, throat, back, neck, and/or abdomen
- Inability to take deep breaths
- Numb, cold, or painful sensations in arms or legs
Poor Air Quality
When air is contaminated with particulates and pollution, it can travel through the blood and into the heart. When this occurs, swelling and malfunction of this crucial organ may occur. Other problems pollution can lead to include thickening or the arteries and high blood pressure. Air may be polluted due to:
- Cooking without enough ventilation
- Traffic emissions
- Poor ventilation in buildings
Steps to Take
There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing heart disease due to poor air conditions. You can change some of your existing habits and develop new ones that are healthier for your cardiovascular systems. For example, you can do your part to reduce pollution by using your car less. You can:
- Use public transportation such as the bus or train.
- Carpool with friends, co-workers, or family members.
- Plan your errands so you can do everything in one trip.
- Ride your bicycle.
- Walk, run, or hike to locations you want to reach.
- Trade your gas-hog vehicle in on an energy-efficient model.
See Your Doctor
You can also do your part to keep your heart healthy by taking good care of your body. It’s important to pay attention to possible signs of heart disease. You should get regular checkups, and if you notice warning signs, make an appointment to see your physician. There are some red flags that need immediate attention, however. You need emergency medical attention if you:
- Have trouble breathing
- Experience chest pain
If you live in a polluted area, do your best to improve the quality of your air. You can create a healthier environment inside your home by using an air purifier, making sure you have proper ventilation, and having an air quality specialist assess your home’s air.