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Bad air also impacts heart, new research shows

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Posted at 8:09 PM, Jan 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-13 22:09:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- We know bad air affects our lungs, but it can also affect your heart.

Researchers at the University of Utah met Tuesday at an air quality conference to talk about the air quality problem in Salt Lake City and how it's impacting health.

Researchers found in a recent study that a strong correlation exists between exposure to particulate pollution and visits to the emergency room for pneumonia.

"So what we found was for adults 65 and older, an increase in the average PM2.5 level was associated with an increase in emergency department visits for pneumonia, hospital admission for pneumonia, and then also for those who had pneumonia, an increase in the average PM2.5 level was associated with increase severity of pneumonia," said Dr. Cheryl Pirozzi a pulmonologist at the U of U.

In another study doctors and researchers found poor air quality causes inflammation to not only your lungs but your entire cardiovascular system.

"Although the lungs are impacted by the air pollution there is a very significant impact on the blood vessel function," said Dr. Russ Richardson a professor of Medicine at the university. "And blood vessels are really important. Obviously the reason for a heart attack is blood vessels don't dilate."

The experts say air quality affects everyone and people could see cardiovascular problem often only seen in smokers, at least temporarily during a bad inversion.