A study published by the American Heart Association has found the combination of extreme heat and fine particulate pollution (air pollution from dust, dirt, soot, and tiny pieces other substances in the air) may double the risk of heart attack deaths. A recent study in China found risk of death from heart attack for older adults on days with high particulate pollution and extreme heat was doubled from the risk on average temperature days. More studies are needed to examine the exact impact of this relationship, but this study does show that reducing exposure to extreme temperatures and fine particulate pollution for older adults may be an important way to prevent premature deaths from heart attacks.
The St. Louis region is ranked 29th in nation for poor air quality with an average particulate matter in the air 7.3% above the EPA standards according to the American Lung Association’s 2022 State of the Air report. This shows the importance of our work, especially because the communities we serve in North St. Louis suffer higher pollution levels, increasing their risk of heart disease. The impact of air conditioning has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack on hot days by 60%. Air conditioning also provides some level of keeping indoor air quality cleaner. As a result, air conditioning is not a luxury for older adults in this region but a necessity.