Background: Particulate air pollution has been consistently related to cardiovascular mortality. Some evidence suggests that particulate matter may accelerate the atherosclerotic process. Effects of within-city variations of particulate air pollution on survival after an acute cardiovascular event have been little explored.
Methods: We conducted a cohort study of hospital survivors of acute myocardial infarction (MI) from the Worcester, MA, metropolitan area to investigate the long-term effects of within-city variation in traffic-related air pollution on mortality. The study builds on an ongoing community-wide investigation examining changes over time in MI incidence and case-fatality rates. We included confirmed cases of MI in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003. Long-term survival status was ascertained through 2005. A validated spatiotemporal land use regression model for traffic-related air pollution was developed and annual averages of elemental carbon at residence estimated. The effect of estimated elemental carbon on the long-term mortality of patients discharged after MI was analyzed using a Cox proportional hazards model, controlling for a variety of demographic, medical history, and clinical variables.
Results: Of the 3895 patients with validated MI, 44% died during follow-up. Exposure to estimated elemental carbon in the year of entry into the study was 0.44 μg/m3 on average. All-cause mortality increased by 15% (95% confidence interval = 0.03%–29%) per interquartile range increase in estimated yearly elemental carbon (0.24 μg/m3) after the second year of survival. No association between traffic-related pollution and all-cause mortality was observed during the first 2 years of follow-up.
Conclusions: Chronic traffic-related particulate air pollution is associated with increased mortality in hospital survivors of acute MI after the second year of survival.