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Air pollution can trigger strokes, heart attacks

New PSA from EPA advises: Be smart. Protect your heart.

heart healthPeople with heart disease should check the daily Air Quality Index forecast and avoid exercising out of doors on bad air quality days, according to the EPA, which has issued a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) to educate the public and healthcare providers about the risks of air pollution to the heart.

One million heart attacks

February is American Heart Month, and the PSA supports the Million Hearts initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September, 2011 to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Air pollution can trigger heart attacks, stroke, and worsen heart conditions, especially in people with heart disease. One in three Americans in the United States has heart disease. Very small particles are the pollutants of greatest concern for triggering health effects from exposure to air pollutants. These particles are found in transportation exhaust, haze, smoke, and dust and sometimes in air that looks clean. Particle pollution can be found in the air at any time of the year.

When orange is bad

The PSA recommends that people with heart disease should check the daily Air Quality Index forecast, which is color coded, to protect their health. At code orange or higher, particle pollution can be harmful to people with heart disease. On bad air quality days, it is recommended to reschedule outdoor exercise or exercise indoors instead, and avoid exercising near busy roads.

Air Quality Index forecasts for more than 400 cities are available on the forecast map through the free AirNow app for iPhone and Android phones, and through the free EnviroFlash e-mail service. To sign up, visit http://airnow.gov/ and click on the “Apps” or “EnviroFlash” icons.

Click here to view the PSA.

Learn more ways to protect your heart from air pollution at www.epa.gov/healthyheart.

Learn about the Million Hearts Initiative at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html

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