Study: High ozone days increase risk of heart attack


by staff

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 8:20 PM

HOUSTON—You might think that Houston’s high ozone level days just make it hard to breathe, but a new study suggests that you also have a higher risk of a heart attack.

The Houston area has some of the worst air in the country, both for ozone levels and small particulate matter.

For everyone that has heard an ozone warning and thought it did not apply to them it is time to think again.

“This is the first study that links cardiac arrest with ozone air pollution,” said Rice University researcher Loren Raun.

Rice University researchers Katherine Ensor and Loren Raun published the study at a conference in Boston this week.

The data, and therefore the study, is only possible thanks to Houston’s hour-to-hour air monitoring network, and the massive database of the EMS response of the Houston Fire Department.

“When the ozone spiked we were able to see the risk of cardiac arrest up five percent within just a few hours,” said Dr. David Persse, Medical Director for the Houston Fire Department.

“Whether you think it is a lot or a little, what this shows is that it is real. Five percent, that is one out of twenty. That has my attention,” Persse said.

Study authors hope the public might pay more attention to the ozone warnings that are nothing unusual here in Houston.

“The warnings are there because there is a very real connection between health and high ozone levels,” Raun said.

We asked Houston resident Jesse Bibbs if he notices the ozone warnings.

“No. I just keep going. I just try to get out there and do what I do,” he said.

Johnny Oswalt spends plenty of time outdoors, and also doesn’t heed the warnings.

“No, I probably should, but I don’t,” he said.

Bibbs said he’d rather be on the golf course, no matter what is in the air.

“I been here a long time, and done a lot of things and I just figure whenever it comes it is just my time,” he said between golf shots.