Study links heat waves and pollution to heart attack risk

Jul 28, 2023, 2:00 PM

FILE - Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Kansas Ci...

FILE - Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 1, 2021. A federal appeals court has put Environmental Protection Agency regulations on hold Friday, May 26, 2023, aimed at reducing air pollution in Missouri, drawing criticism from environmentalists but praise from the state's attorney general who called the proposal “unconstitutional overreach.” (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Circulation, a health journal for the American Heart Association, recently published a study that found that exposure to both extreme temperatures and increased particulate pollution levels is highly associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. 

Study specifications

A press release from the American Heart Association said that researchers looked at data from 202,000 heart attacks in the Jiangsu province of China between 2015-2020.

Researchers tracked heat waves to cold fronts and looked at how extreme and how long temperatures lasted. 

The researchers also looked at days when a fatal heart attack happened and tracked them against control days.

Lastly, researchers tracked particle pollution from fine particulates, known as PM 2.5, to see which days had “high” levels. A high-level day is considered an average of PM 2.5 above 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Higher levels of heart attacks

The study found that the risk of a fatal heart attack compared with control days:

  • Is twice as high during 4-day heat waves with high particulate pollution levels.
  • Is 18% higher during 2-day heat waves between 82.6 to 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Is 74% higher during 4-day heat waves between 94.8 to 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Is generally higher among women and people 80 years or older

Utah’s levels of pollution

Here in Utah, the main pollution concern isn’t PM 2.5, it’s ozone pollution.

According to Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, “We usually see very low levels of particulate matter unless there is visible smoke in the atmosphere.”

PM 2.5 particles mainly originate from smoke, including wildfires and fireworks.

According to the DAQ website, current PM 2.5 levels are well below the 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter observed in the study.

However, Bird explains that high ozone pollution, combined with high temperatures, can also cause severe medical issues.

“The combination of the high ozone values, the wildfire smoke, and the heat certainly would be a concern, and an increased concern as those concentrations get higher.”

How to stay safe

There are many ways to reduce the risk of experiencing a heat or pollution-related heart attack.

Doctors involved in the study said some strategies include following local weather forecasts, proper hydration, using air purifiers and staying inside during the hottest times of the day.

Locally, Bird said reducing pollution is always the goal and we should “do what we can to reduce our contribution.”

This includes optimizing emissions, carpooling, reducing wildfires, and switching to electric or other eco-friendly lawn tools.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

15 hours ago

Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Josh Scharman conducts the grand opening of the Community Connections...

Eric Cabrera

Social workers with Salt Lake Police Department are responding to more callers than ever

The Community Connection Center social workers who work with the Salt Lake Police Department are getting an increase in mental health-related calls, as a result they have grown their team to able to respond to more.

1 day ago

the us house of representatives shown at the capitol, the house passed a bill about sodium nitrite...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

House passes bill to ban a compound used in suicides

Legislation backed by Rep. Celeste Maloy would ban the consumer sale of sodium nitrite, a product becoming increasingly common in suicides.

2 days ago

Sunscreen for cancer prevention...

Don Brinkerhoff

Utah oncologist talks cancer prevention ahead of Memorial Day

Huntsman Center Oncologist, Dr. Theresa Werner talks about the importance of cancer prevention during skin cancer awareness month.

2 days ago

Khloee Camberlango after receiving a surgery for her scoliosis....

Angie Denison

Khloee’s journey: Overcoming scoliosis with courage and cheer

Khloee Camberlango was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of nine. She had to proceed to go through braces and surgery to aid the scoliosis.

2 days ago

A photo taken of Matthew Perry in 2022....

Clayre Scott

Criminal investigation opened in relation to Matthew Perry’s death

A criminal investigation has been opened in relation to Matthew Perry's death due to high levels of ketamine found in his blood.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Study links heat waves and pollution to heart attack risk