By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter
Monday, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Wildfire smoke has an almost immediate harmful effect on the heart and lungs, according to researchers.
Using data from forest fire seasons between 2010 and 2015 in British Columbia, Canada, the researchers linked exposure to increased amounts of fine particles in the smoke with ambulance shipments for heart and lung diseases. Dispatchers rose within an hour of exposure to devastating smoke, investigators found.
In addition, the results showed that in people with diabetes, the risk of health problems increased within 48 hours after exposure to smoke.
The study included more than 670,000 ambulance calls from more than 500,000 people. The report was published in the journal on June 24 Environmental health prospects.
“We have known about the harmful effects of forest fire smoke for a long time,” said lead author Jiayun Angela Yao, who conducted the study as part of her doctorate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
“But it is alarming to see how quickly particulate matter appears to affect the airways and cardiovascular system. And the acute effects for people with diabetes are relatively new to us,” she added in a press release from the university.
Fine dust consists of tiny pieces of dust, dirt and smoke in the air. Larger particles can irritate the eyes and throat, while fine particles can get deep into the lungs and even get into the bloodstream, the researchers explained.
The results are current as the forest fire season is ongoing and forest fire smoke can increase the severity of viral infections affecting the heart and lungs, including COVID-19, the study authors said.
The results also highlight the need for rapid public health responses to limit exposure to forest fire smoke.
“It is important that everyone prepares for devastating smoking events to ensure that they are ready, especially since COVID-19 is still a serious public health threat,” said Yao. “Anyone with pre-existing heart and lung disease and diabetes is particularly at risk and should consider buying air purifiers and making sure they have enough medication at home.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more to offer devastating smoke.
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.