Air pollution worsens heart attack risk, doctor says

SALT LAKE CITY -- Dirty skies above the Salt Lake Valley make it hard to breathe right for people sensitive to the air, like those with asthma. But the poor air quality also can be deadly for others.

Intermountain Healthcare interventional cardiologist Dr. Brent Muhlestein said, in his  24 years of heart attack treatment, he thought air pollution only affected the lungs. Last fall, he was proven wrong.

Intermountain Healthcare teamed with a BYU medical researcher and proved the worse the inversion , the more heart attacks for anyone with a heart condition.

Dr. Muhlestein explained the particle matter gets into the blood stream and can cause an existing plaque to rupture. That causes a clot, which can block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack.

"Every time on the day you have a bad air day the chances of having a heart attack are double in the patients who have some underlying heart disease," Muhlestein said.

He recommends, along with those with breathing and lung issues, those with heart issues should not exercise outdoors during an inversion.

If you do have to be outdoors, do so early in the morning before before drivers start their engines, and also replace your home air filters often.