London: Air pollution is taking its toll on people with failing hearts by killing millions of people globally each year, a big international study conducted by an Indian-origin author has revealed.
This happens when the heart muscle becomes weak and less good at its job of pumping blood around the body.
The research looked at 35 studies with data for thousands of patients in 12 countries, including the UK, the US and China.
It was found that the strongest link was with gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, as well as fine particulate air pollution - fumes from buses, taxis and lorries that can get deep into the lungs and, from there, into the bloodstream.
The study suggested that people with weak hearts, who were living near to or travelling along busy roads, were exposed to high levels and were more vulnerable to heart failure.
According to Dr Anoop Shah and colleagues at Edinburgh University, moderate reductions in air pollution could avoid 8,000 US hospital admissions for heart failure each year.
The study was published in Lancet journal.