Reduced air pollution resulting from the COVID-19 shutdowns translated into 374 fewer heart attacks per 10,000 person-years, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021.
Researchers, led by lead author Sidney Aung, at the University of California, San Francisco, collected pollution measurements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and heart attacks records from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System and the U.S. Census during the study period to calculate the frequency of heart attacks. They analyzed pollution and heart attacks between January 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020.
Investigators observed that the number of severe heart attacks decreased with each 10 micrograms per cubic meter drop in particulate matter 2.5. A total of 60,722 heart attacks occurred during the study. With each 10 µg/m3 drop in particulate matter 2.5 noted in the study, the number of heart attacks also decreased by 6%.
The authors suggested future studies that “pursue similar research to corroborate these results or investigate other forms of air pollutants outside of particulate matter 2.5 that may have also declined during the pandemic lockdowns.”