Your Blood Type May Determine How Smog Affects Your Heart

Risk of a heart attack or chest pain during periods of pollution doubled for people of type A B or AB blood

Risk of a heart attack or chest pain during periods of pollution doubled for people of type A B or AB blood

Most people won't have a heart attack unless they have coronary artery disease.

Previous studies have also shown links between small-particulate pollution and heart attacks, admission to the hospital with unstable chest pain, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. This new study was created to build on and tie together those findings and test the influence of one variation: the impact of an individual's blood type.

"We wondered, if someone has a specific variation in this ABO gene, are they more or less likely to experience a heart attack in times of higher pollution?" said Dr Benjamin Horne, lead investigator of the study.

The research finds that A, B, or AB blood types (the three make up approximately 52% of the population) have an elevated risk of cardiac arrest during periods of high pollution when compared to people with O blood type, the most common single blood type in the United Kingdom, according to the NHS.

"The one that's been found in genetic studies to be lower risk is O. The other three were higher risk".

But they wanted to conduct the new research, which was unveiled this week at the 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, to test how impactful an individual's blood type can be on their risk.

Dozens of genes have been shown in large global studies to predict the onset of coronary artery disease in people who are free of the disease.

Although the team cautions that a heart attack is never a certainty even with these factors and pre-existing coronary disease.

Dr Horne said: 'You have to have other characteristics for coronary disease to progress to a heart attack.

However, "this association between heart attacks and pollution in patients with non-O blood isn't something to panic over, but it is something to be aware of", he said.

Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute researchers had already identified a level of pollution at which the increased risk occurred for people with non-O blood types, he said, and that threshold is 25 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter.

According to Dr Horne, the risk for people with non-O blood types goes up by 25% for every 10 additional micrograms of PM2.5 particles per cubic metre, while the risk for people in the O blood group is 10%.

The study had looked at clinical data for Intermountain Healthcare patients who were treated between 1993 and 2007.

Recent research by the World Health Organisation found that 44 major United Kingdom towns and cities now breach WHO guidelines on air quality with particulate levels so high they cause six million sick days each year.

He said, during a winter inversion, the PM2.5 pollution level can occasionally reach as high as 100 micrograms per cubic metre, but 50 to 60 is more typical.

Around 55 per cent of people are A, B, or AB and they are thought to be at greater risk of heart problems because their blood contains greater quantities of a clotting agent.

He said at the 65 micrograms per cubic metre pollution level, a person with type O blood faces risk that's 40 per cent higher than if the air wasn't polluted.

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