Particles in the PM 2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs.
The last three days have been tough for Sushila Singh (name changed), who suffered a minor heart attack on Monday night after she was having dinner with her family. Singh, has a history of high blood pressure which aggravates as the winter sets in. But this time, high pollution levels in the capital choked her heart.
As a preventive measure, I did not go out at the time of Diwali. But the next day, I was feeling congested inside. That whole day, I couldnt sleep, I felt suffocated, she said.
She is not the only case, doctors in the city have witnessed a spurt in heart attack cases in the last three days. On Monday, Delhi woke up to the seasons worst air quality as smoke from Diwali fireworks, coupled with moisture and nearly stagnant wind movement, shrouded the city in a thick cover of smog.
As per Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCCs) real time monitoring mechanism, the ultra pollutant Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 had on Monday breached the safe standard by over 14 times at Anand Vihar, Delhis most polluted area, at 2:30 AM. Many other areas including densely populated R K Puram had nearly similar readings.
There is almost 200 per cent jump in the cases of heart attack and failure. In the last three days, we have witnessed around 15-20 cardiac related cases in our hospital. The rise is due to the dust particles in the air, said Dr Viveka Kumar, director, Department of Cardiology, Max Healthcare.
Particles in the PM 2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eyes, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.
I have witnessed five cases of heart attack in last three days. The high level of pollution and dip in the air increases the cardiac problems these days. These all are the triggering factors at this time. People with high blood pressure should stay alert. As the arteries shrink during the winters, the cases are going to increase in the coming days, said Dr. Subash Chandra, Chairman, Head of Department, Cardiology, BLK Super Speciality Hospital.
According to health experts, exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increase in daily PM 2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths.
Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.