Tracking Heart Attacks in Vermont

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In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds.

In Vermont, heart disease is the second leading cause of death after cancer.

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A heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart becomes blocked. Unless the flow of blood is restored quickly, the heart muscle is damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die. The more time that passes without restoring blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. A heart attack is also called an acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Is there a link between air quality and heart attacks?

Investigators both in the U.S. and abroad have shown relationships between short- and long-term exposure to air pollution and the increased risk of heart attack and other forms of heart disease. For example, researchers have demonstrated increases in heart attack hospitalization rates in relation to fine particles (PM2.5) found in haze, smoke and dust. This is particularly true for sensitive groups, such as the elderly, patients with pre-existing heart disease, survivors of heart attack, or people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The level of environmental risk for heart attacks depends on several factors:

  • The amount of pollution in the air
  • A person’s exposure to the air pollution
  • Overall health
How do I protect my health from air pollution?
  • Know your sensitivity to air pollution
  • Know when air pollution may be bad in your area
  • Plan activities when and where pollution levels are lower, using the air quality index to guide planning
  • Reduce your activity level during times of higher pollution
  • Listen to your body
  • Consult with your health care provider
  • Have your medication with you
What heart attack data are included in the Vermont Tracking Portal?

Vermont Tracking provides annual data about hospitalizations for heart attack starting in 2000 and emergency department visits for heart attack starting in 2003. Vermont Tracking also provides data about air quality. Air pollution has been linked to heart disease.

Hospitalizations are inpatient admissions of Vermont residents to hospitals in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts. Emergency department visits are emergency room visits to Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts hospitals by Vermont residents.

For both hospitalizations and emergency department visits, heart attack data are available by number of cases, crude rate per 10,000 people, age-adjusted rate per 10,000 people, and gender. The gender choices are:

  • Male and Female 
  • Male
  • Female

All heart attack data are for age 35 and older. The crude rate data for inpatient hospitalizations also offer age choices:

  • 35 and older
  • 35–64
  • 65 and older

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