Hospitalizations can occur for many different reasons. For EPHT, the CDC has selected two broad categories of hospitalization that are associated with environmental health: Hospitalizations for Asthma and Hospitalizations for Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI or Heart Attack). The data provided in this section will be related to these two issues.
Asthma is a chronic or long-term disease that affects the lungs/respiratory system making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing. People with asthma have more sensitive airways and may be more likely to react strongly to infections; and exposure to environmental factors such as allergens like pollen in the air; or irritants, such as smoke and air pollution. A number of studies have reported associations between air pollution exposures and asthma.
A number of studies have reported associations between air pollution and hospitalizations for asthma and other forms of respiratory illnesses. Asthma can be caused and/or made worse by exposure to many different environmental contaminants, including both particulate matter (PM) and ozone, which are also tracked by the EPHT program. The EPA has established an Air Quality Index to provide guidance to you about the quality of the air in your area on any given day.
According to the American Heart Association, "studies have demonstrated a consistent risk for cardiovascular events in relation to both short- and long-term exposure to present-day environmental factors such as concentrations of ambient particulate matter."
Increasingly, studies both in the United States and abroad have shown environmental/health correlations between short- and long-term exposure to particulate matter air pollution and an increased risk of heart attacks, and other forms of heart disease. Research has demonstrated an increase in heart attack hospitalization rates in relation to fine particles (PM 2.5) exposure, particularly in sensitive groups such as the elderly, patients with pre-existing heart disease, or people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) is a heart attack. While there are non-environmental causes of heart attacks, a number of studies have reported associations between air pollution and hospitalizations for heart attacks and other forms of heart disease. The EPHT database trackshospitalization for AMI's in order to obtain more information about the association that has been identified between this medical condition and air pollution. Having this standardized way of submitting AMI hospital admissions data will allow DHEC, the CDC and other research groups to identify and monitor trends over time as well as potentiallyidentify groups of people at high risk who can be targeted for prevention programs.
Please note that the data reported in the following maps and tables related to health outcomes represents all reported cases. When interpreting this data, it is important to understand that some of the numbers reflect cases for which there is no known environmental cause.
See our new Dynamic Portal to view Asthma and AMI Maps
View the Asthma and AMI Hospitalization Metadata.