Bengaluru’s air pollution goes far beyond merely affecting the lungs and is widely causing heart attacks, research has revealed.
One of the hospitals in the city, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, has dealt with nearly 2,200 heart attack cases in the below-40 age group in the past two years.
These patients do not have the usual risk factors like smoking, obesity and diabetes, and doctors believe air pollution has caused blocks in their arteries.
Dr Rahul Patil, head, Premature Heart Diseases Clinic, Jayadeva told DH: “When we studied the 2,200 mostly young patients, we saw that 40% had no other risk factor. A common connection, however, was that these were mostly people who spent long hours on the road.”
Researchers at Jayadeva have joined hands with the St John’s Research Institute and National Centre for Human Genetics to spread awareness on the risk of heart attacks among those exposed to air pollution for a long time. The patients included software professionals spending over an hour on the road and cab drivers.
Over the past five years, the hospital saw a 22% jump in patients below 40. The youngest among them was a 16-year-old student in December.
The Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences began tracking the cases of youngsters suffering heart attacks for the past two years. Dr Patil said the institute now has the largest exhaustive registry of heart patients below 40. He said even the American Heart Association has declared air pollution as a reason for heart attacks.
Over 102 of the 2,200 patients have died. Dr Patil attributed the high mortality to the way heart attacks strike young patients. “Among adults, it presents itself with pain that lasts over a few days. Those above 40 also tend to have routine tests done, where this is picked up. In 99% of the youngsters we saw, there was no such warning sign at all. It was sudden.” Dr Patil said young patients need special care and counselling since they have to live with stent or medication for life.
Jayadeva is teaming up with the European non-profit Health and Environmental Alliance to study the effects of pollution among techies in Bengaluru.
The group is looking to conduct a non-invasive research on techies spending more than an hour in traffic in areas that report high air pollution levels.