People with one blood type are at higher risk of air-pollution-related heart attacks if they already suffer with coronary heart disease, according to a new 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 UK, according to the NHS.
Benjamin Horne, lead investigator, said: “The 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.”
The team had previously found that there was a link between small particulate PM2.5 pollution and heart attack, admission to the hospital with unstable chest pain, heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
Horne said: “Two years ago we published findings that showed once you go above that, each additional 10 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter of air provided substantially higher risks.”
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.
And although they found people with type O blood do have higher risk of heart attack or unstable chest pain in times of high air pollution, their level of risk is much smaller compared to non-O blood types.
Registering at 10% instead of the non-O blood type’s 25% per 10 additional micrograms per cubic meter,
Although the team cautions that a heart attack is never a certainty even with these factors and pre-existing coronary disease.
What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 are small particles which are widely acknowledged to have the greatest impact on health with both short and long term exposure increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, according to research from King’s College.
For patients who are concerned about the findings, Horne says there is something you can do to reduce your risk: “Stay indoors out of pollution. Exercise indoors. And make sure [you are] compliant with taking heart medication to reduce [your] risk.”
Dozens of genes have been shown in large international studies to predict the onset of coronary artery disease in people who are free of the disease.
The ABO gene - which is present in people who have A, B, AB blood types, is the only gene that’s been validated in large international studies to predict heart attacks among people with coronary disease.
The study had looked at clinical data for Intermountain Healthcare patients who were treated between 1993 and 2007.
The World Health Organisation says that 16,355 deaths in the UK are attributable to ambient air pollution, and according to a 2015 King’s College London report, 9,500 of these are in the capital.