Patients with heart disease should be made aware of the increased risk associated with exposure to air pollution and educated about strategies to decrease exposure. Patients can reduce their exposure and risk by decreasing their time outdoors when air pollutants are present at concentrations believed to impart a health risk and/or decreasing the intensity of outdoor physical activity. For example, if a patient usually jogs, exercising indoors in an air-conditioned environment can be recommended. If an alternative and acceptable indoor location is not available, one should walk instead of jog. Outdoor PM contributes to indoor PM.

When conditions are severe, for example with wood smoke secondary to a wildfire, activities should be restricted indoors as well and consideration given to using high-efficiency particulate air filter air cleaners to reduce indoor PM levels. PM and NO2 are typically elevated in the morning and afternoon when automotive and truck traffic increases during rush hour commutes. O3 concentration increases in the heat of the day and therefore is highest in the midday and in the summer months. In general, patients can reduce exposure by the following: limiting exercise outdoors in the afternoons when air pollutant concentrations are high; exercising indoors or away from roadways; closing doors and windows and using air conditioning; seeking air quality reports and forecasts; and utilizing the Air Quality Index (AQI) to guide outdoor activities. The AQI provides a national standard for reporting daily air quality and providing anticipated health effects for the quality reported. The AQI can be reviewed daily in the local media or on the EPA website.

In some areas of the United States, state and local environmental agencies in cooperation with the EPA provide a service, EnviroFlash, that provides air-quality alerts by email. Patients can customize reports so that they are notified of only those conditions that would pose a health risk for their specific clinical condition.

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  • Category: Heart and vessels