Asian Dust Exposure May Trigger Heart Attacks

Breathing in particles from Asian dust storms can trigger heart attacks, particularly in patients with chronic kidney disease.

AsianScientist (Sep. 20, 2017) – Scientists in Japan have discovered a strong association between exposure to dust from Asian deserts and the risk of cardiovascular disease. They published their findings in the European Heart Journal.

The yellow sand in the desert area of the Asian continent, such as the Gobi and Takla Makan Deserts, is sometimes picked up and transported over long distances with the seasonal wind. Since air pollutants and microorganisms adhere to the yellow sand during transportation, adverse health effects from dust exposure is a great concern. On the island of Kyushu in the southwestern region of Japan, Asian dust is observed relatively often.

In the present study, researchers used data from Kyushu’s Kumamoto University Hospital to analyze the relationship between Asian dust exposure and acute myocardial infarction. Information about cases of acute myocardial infarction are comprehensively registered in the hospital’s medical database, alongside background factors such as age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking and chronic kidney disease.

During the study period, there were 4,509 acute myocardial infarction patients registered in the database with clear onset dates. After excluding those who lived outside Kumamoto Prefecture, those who developed acute myocardial infarction during hospitalization or on holidays, or those who lacked patient background information, 3,713 people were analyzed for an association between exposure to Asian dust and the onset of acute myocardial infarction.

The researchers observed increased numbers of acute myocardial infarction patients the day after Asian dust was reported, with an odds ratio (approximate value of risk) of 1.46. An odds ratio value of more than 1.00 indicates a strong association. Notably, this association is not changed even when considering the influence of air pollutants such as microparticulate materials (PM 2.5), photochemical oxidants, nitrogen dioxide, or sulfur dioxide.

Next, the researchers examined the relationship between Asian dust and myocardial infarction after grouping by patient background factors. They found that the association between Asian dust and acute myocardial infarction was most prevalent among non-smoking male patients who were older than 75 years old and had health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Within this cohort, it was clear that patients with chronic kidney disease were significantly more likely to suffer from acute myocardial infarction after being influenced by dust, compared to those without chronic kidney disease.

“Our research suggests that exposure to Asian dust may trigger the onset of acute myocardial infarction. As far as we know, this is the first report showing that patients with chronic kidney disease may more easily develop acute myocardial infarction when influenced by Asian dust,” said Associate Professor Sunao Kojima of Kumamoto University who led the study.

“This time, we assessed patients only on the days when the Japan Meteorological Agency reported Asian dust in our region. In the future, it will be necessary to estimate the concentration of Asian dust in the air and examine whether acute myocardial infarctions increase as the concentration increases. We also intend to accumulate knowledge on background factors that are susceptible to the influence of Asian dust at various concentrations to try and prevent the adverse health effects of Asian dust.”

The article can be found at: Kojima et al. (2017) Asian Dust Exposure Triggers Acute Myocardial Infarction.


Source: Kumamoto University; Photo: Sunao Kojima.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist