A new study suggests that the risk of air pollution exposure may be higher than usual for a specific group of people. The study’s authors found that a variant ABO gene, commonly found in A, B, and AB blood types, has been connected with increased incidences of cardiac arrest during periods of exposure to airborne pollutants. People with the O blood type were found to be less susceptible to heart attacks from air pollution exposure.
According to Benjamin Horne, a clinical epidemiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, this prompted his team to wonder if a specific variation of this ABO gene may be a contributing factor to higher or lower risk of heart attack in times of poor air quality. Horne’s team examined the medical data of Intermountain Healthcare patients admitted between 1993 and 2007. They found that a specific group of patients experienced an acute coronary syndrome during short-term exposure to high levels fine, inhalable particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5). When the researchers cross-referenced the data, they found that patients who carried a variant ABO blood type had a marginally higher risk of heart ailments during exposure to PM2.5.
For every incremental increase of 10 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter, the risk for people with A, B, and AB blood types shoots up by 25 percent. On the other hand, the risk for people with O blood goes up only by 10 percent. The 15 percent difference may be negligible when other risk factors, such as age and existing medical conditions, are accounted for.
Particulate matter, or PM, refers to liquid droplets or solid particles that are small and light enough to be transported by the airstream. Smaller PM represent a more serious problem to indoor air quality, because they are able to penetrate the alveoli of the lungs and reach other vital organs by crossing into the bloodstream.
Still, the researchers noted that regardless of blood type, everyone’s risk level increases when concentrations of PM2.5 breach the threshold of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, proving that anyone can benefit from the protection provided by higher efficiency air filters. It’s just that people with non-O blood types may be more susceptible to heart issues associated with air pollution.
The study’s authors urged the public not to panic over the findings of the study, but only to be aware of it. Bottom line? Everyone stays indoors, exercise indoors when they can, and take necessary prescribed heart medication to reduce their risk of heart disease.
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Release ID: 12894