Air pollution contributes to 14% of heart attacks and strokes, a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health reported.
According to scientists, the prolonged exposure to polluted air can be considered a significant independent risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases.
The study covered data for 15 years, including data of nearly 160,000 people aged between the ages of 35 and 70 years from 21 countries. Each participant was examined for at least nine years.
The authors focused on fine particles called PM2.5 due to their small size at under 2.5 microns, which allows them to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause chronic inflammation, said study lead author Perry Hystad.
According to the study, these particles are released into the air by different combustion sources, such as car engines, fireplaces, and coal-fired power plants.
"In total, the researchers observed a 5% increase in cardiovascular events for every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in concentration of PM2.5. Since there have been immense concentrations of PM2.5 recorded across the world, the researchers were able to assess that 14% of all cardiovascular events observed in patients in the PURE study can be attributed to PM2.5 exposure."