Next time you're in a traffic jam, it might not be a bad idea to huff and puff with your windows UP!
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, breathing in the fumes from heavy traffic can boost your risk of heart attack for up to six hours.
Air pollution won't start causing heart attacks for just anyone, but could increase the chance of heart attacks in people already at risk.
To discover this revelation, researchers looked at health data from 79,288 people who have had a heart attack between 2003 and 2006 in the United Kingdom.
They then looked at traffic pollution data, including carbon monoxide and ozone levels, in different parts of the country.
After studying and comparing the data, it was determined that the likelihood of having a heart attack was the highest 6 hours after the people studied had been exposed to traffic fumes.
The connection is not entirely clear, but pollution can possibly thicken blood to make it more likely to clot. A co-funder of the study told news sources:
"We know that pollution can have a major effect on your heart health, possibly because it can 'thicken' the blood to make it more likely to clot, putting you at higher risk of a heart attack."
A similar study on the link between heart attacks and traffic suggests that although pollution may have an effect on the heart, it may also be stress!
The researcher presenting her findings during American Heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease, said:
"One potential factor could be the exhaust and air pollution coming from other cars, but we can't exclude the synergy between stress and air pollution that could tip the scale."
It's pretty hard to avoid traffic if you live anywhere near civilization, so the best way to avoid being at risk at ALL is to lead a healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise and good food!
[Image via WENN.]