(WUSA9) -- How well does your body bounce back after a heart attack? Exposure to air pollution can play an important role, according to a study just released by the European Heart Journal.
This was the largest study, and one of the few studies, that tested the link between patient survival rate after a heart attack and exposure to air pollution.
"Micrograms per cubic meter of air" were used to measure air pollution. The study found a 20% increase in the rate of death for heart attack survivors for every 10 micograms per cubic meter of air they were exposed to.
This means that there were 20% more deaths for patients who were exposed to 20 micograms per cubic meter of air compared to those who were exposed to only 10 micograms per cubic meter of air.
And where you live could mean the difference between a full recovery or not.
Air pollution was measured in different regions of England. Those in London were the most impacted, while those in the North East region of England were the least impacted.
Although people's individual exposure varied greatly within each region, the study measured the patients' susceptibility to air pollution based on where they lived. Furthermore, the study did not account for traveling time or time spent away from home.
The studied followed over 150,000 patients who were admitted to a hospital for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in England and Wales from 2004 to 2007. They had follow-ups with the patients in 2010, unless the patient had already died.
Close to 5,000 early deaths would be prevented if heart attack patients were not vulnerable to such high levels of air pollution, according to Dr. Cathryn Tonne and Paul Wilkinson, lecturer and professor respectively of environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
To solely measure the link between air pollution and heart attack patient deaths, the study took into account patients' sex, age and medical history. Researchers also factored treatments and drugs, smoking history, socioeconomic factors and where they lived.