California Department of Public Health logo: three likenesses of people colored blue, green, and orange  

Join our list

Get updates on our project activities and new features of our website. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Contact Us

California Environmental Health Tracking Program

850 Marina Bay Pkwy, P-3
Richmond, CA 94804

(510) 620-3038
E-Mail Us
Last Edited: 9/30/2010

Heart Attacks and the Environment

How are cardiovascular disease and heart attacks related to the environment?

In addition to the many risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), researchers have also found CVD is associated with environmental factors such as:

  • Air pollution1
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Risks in the workplace
  • Environmental tobacco smoke2

Stress in the work place is also an environmental risk that has been linked to CVD3.

Numerous epidemiologic studies have found an association between air pollution and hospitalizations for heart attacks and other forms of heart disease4,5,6.

  • Air pollutants include ozone, particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide
  • These studies have found increases in hospitalization rates particularly in sensitive populations, such as the elderly and patients with pre-existing heart disease.
  • Mortality risk has also been associated with long-term exposure to multiple air pollutants


1. Pope III CA, Burnett RT, Thurston GD, Thun MJ, Calle EE, Krewski D, Godleski JJ. Cardiovascular mortality and long-term exposure to particulate air pollution: epidemiological evidence of general pathophysiological pathways of disease. Circulation 2004;109:71-7.
2. Kaur S, Cohen A, Dolor R, Coffman CJ, Bastian LA. The impact of environmental tobacco smoke on women’s risk of dying from heart disease: a meta-analysis. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2004: 13(8): 888-97.
3. Belkic KL, Landsbergis PA, Schnall PL, Baker D. Is job strain a major source of cardiovascular disease risk? Scand J Work Environ Health 2004: 30(2): 85-128.
4. Vermylen J, Nemmar A, Nemery B, Hoylaerts MF. Ambient air pollution and acute myocardial infacrtion. J Thrombosis Haemostasis 2005:3:1955-1961.
5. von Klot S, Petters A, Aalto P, Bellander T, Berglind N, D’Ippoliti D, Elosua R, Hormann A, Kulmala M, Lanki T, Lowel H, Pekkanen J, Picciotto S.Sunyer J, Forastiere F, Health Effects of Particles on Susceptible Subpopulations (HEAPSS) Study Group. Ambient air pollution is associated with increased risk of hospital cardiac readmission of myocardial infarction survivors in five European cities. Circulation 2005;112(20):3073-9.
6. Pope CA 3rd, Muhlestein JB, May HT, Renlund DG, Anderson JL, Horne BD. Ischemic heart disease events triggered by short-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. Circulation 2006;114(23):2443-8.