Leading cardiovascular organizations call for urgent action to reduce air pollution
Four leading cardiovascular organizations – the World Heart Federation (WHF), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA) and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) – today released a joint paper urging the medical community and health authorities to mitigate the impact of air pollution on people’s health.
In 2019, an estimated 6.7 million deaths, or 12 percent of all deaths worldwide, were attributable to outdoor or household air pollution. As many as half of these deaths were due to cardiovascular disease. Air pollution also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases, which are known to raise a person’s risk of experiencing some of the more severe consequences of COVID-19.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution was an issue of growing concern due to its impact on people’s health, although it was frequently overlooked as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. COVID-19 has brought a new, deadly factor to the equation, and the time has come for the health community to speak up and take action,” said Michael Brauer, Chair of the World Heart Federation Air Pollution Expert Group and co-author of the statement.
The statement calls for structural actions to reduce emissions of air pollutants and harmful exposure. It also highlights the important role that healthcare providers play in preventing illnesses related to air pollution, including:
- Advocating for air pollution mitigation as a health measure, further research on air quality and its impact on CVD, and interventions to reduce air pollution and its effect on NCDs;
- Providing patients with personal measures to reduce exposure, such as room air filtration systems;
- Integrating air pollution into disease management approaches, for example through the use of air quality indices;
- Participating in the development of guidelines on air pollution and CVD;
- Supporting ministries of environment, energy, and transportation in their mitigation efforts;
- Working to educate and raise awareness on the cardiovascular benefits of clean air;
- Collaborating with senior decision-makers in national, regional, and global governmental institutions to make air pollution related heart disease a priority.