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Do acute changes in ambient air pollution increase the risk of potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators?


Background — Daily changes in ambient air pollution have been associated with cardiac morbidity and mortality. Precipitating a cardiac arrhythmia in susceptible individuals may be one mechanism. We investigated the influence of daily changes in air pollution in the Province of Ontario, Canada on the frequency of discharges from implantable cardio defibrillators (ICDs) which occur in response to potentially life threatening arrhythmias

Methods — Using a case- crossover design, we compared ambient air pollution concentrations on the day of an ICD discharge to other days in the same month and year in 1952 patients. We adjusted for weather, lagged the exposure data from 0 to 3 days, and stratified the results by several patient-related characteristics.

Results — Median (interquartile range) for ozone (O3), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were 26.0 ppb (19.4, 33.0), 6.6 μg/m3 (4.3, 10.6), 1.00 ppb (0.4,2.1), 10.0 ppb (6.0,15.3) respectively. Unlagged odds ratios (95%) for an ICD discharge associated with an interquartile range increase in pollutant were 0.97 (0.86, 1.09) for O3, 0.99 (0.92, 1.06) for PM2.5, 0.97 (0.91, 1.03) for SO2, and 1.00 (0.89, 1.12) for NO2.

Conclusion — We found no evidence that the concentrations of ambient air pollution observed in our study were a risk factor for potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias in patients with ICDs.



Dales R, Lee DS, Wang X, Cakmak S, Szyszkowicz M, Shutt R, Birnie D. Environ Health. 2020; 19(1):72. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

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