Air pollution has to be added to the causes of heart disease. Alongside diet, lack of exercise and stress, living in an area where there is pollution from farming and construction is another major risk factor.
The culprits are air pollutants known as coarse particulates although still smaller in diameter than a human hair and they have a direct effect on heart health. Even smaller particulates, which typically come from car exhausts, can damage the lungs and even enter the bloodstream, but there`s no evidence they damage the heart.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health started to suspect coarse particulates when they noted that cardiovascular admissions to hospitals were higher on days when coarse particle levels were higher.
The particulates come from construction, farming and even from desert winds.
Ironically, America`s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does`t monitor coarse particulates, but instead monitors only finer particulates.
(Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, 2015; 123: doi: 10.1289/ehp.1408720)