Wildfire smoke may increase risk of heart attack

Wildfire Smoke Health Risks, July 2, 2020.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Smoke from wildfires, like the Bighorn Fire in Tucson, can spell trouble for people with lung or heart disease.

”It’s not a gas,” said Dr. Joseph Alpert, University of Arizona College of Medicine. “It’s billions and billions of little tiny particles. Think of it as ash.”

Dr. Alpert explains what those particles do when you breathe them in.

”They can cause this inflammation, this whole irritation throughout the body and that can set off heart disease, for example, increase numbers of heart attacks,” said Dr. Alpert.

In fact, according to the American Heart Association, a recent study found inhaling wildfire smoke may raise your risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by up to 70 percent.

With COVID-19 here as well, Dr. Alpert says a lot of heart patients are afraid to go to the hospital.

”Don’t stay home,” Dr. Alpert said. “Your risk for COVID is pretty small because of course we don’t put you in a room with COVID patients and the chance that if you don’t get your heart attack or stroke treated, it’s going to be a lot worse. Your chance of dying or being disabled is much higher.”

Dr. Alpert says if you have symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure like shortness of breath or coughing, it may be best to remove yourself from that area right away.

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