Being exposed to air pollution can raise the risk of having a heart attack, new research has found.
Hazrije Mustafic from the University Paris Descartes and colleagues conducted a review of earlier studies and found that the risk of a heart attack was "significantly" higher in people who were exposed to toxic fumes for up to seven days, with the exception of ozone.
The researchers analysed the effects of these fumes on the levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, the heart rate and blood viscosity. Their review found that poor air quality can increase the levels of the protein, leading to an abnormal regulation of the heart rate and a rise in blood viscosity.
While they said that "improvement in air quality could have a significant effect on public health", they acknowledged that further studies need to be carried out to establish whether this could also reduce the number of heart attacks.
The results of the review have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Copyright Press Association 2012