Short and Long Term Air Pollution Can Lead to Elder Hospitalizations

June 14, 2012

Jeremy Walker
Both short-term and long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to increased hospitalizations among older individuals.
Short-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to spikes in hospitalizations among the elderly for causes ranging from pneumonia to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, less is known about the effects of chronic exposure.
Researchers defined long-term exposure as the average exposure in a Zip code for the 7-year study, and short-term exposure as the difference between the 2-day average exposure and the long-term average exposure.
The researchers then examined Medicare admissions to some 3,000 area hospitals for diagnoses of all respiratory causes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes from 2000 to 2008.

For all causes in areas with high levels of pollution, women were more commonly hospitalized, accounting for 56% of admissions for respiratory conditions, 55% of admissions for cardiovascular disease, 59% for strokes, and 57% for diabetes.

For 13 years, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from state air quality monitors to compile the State of the Air report. The more you learn about the air you breathe, the more you can protect your health and take steps to make our air cleaner and healthier.