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My Health & Environment - Environmental Public Health Tracking

Hospitalization

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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

Asthma and the Environment

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.

Hospitalizations for Asthma as an indicator of Public Health

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.

Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI or Heart Attack)

Heart Attacks and the Environment

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.

Hospitalizations for Heart Attacks as an indicator of Public Health

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.

About Asthma and AMI

Asthma and AMI Resouces and Materials

Asthma

What are some common asthma triggers?

An asthma attack can occur when you are exposed to certain things (i.e. asthma triggers) in the environment. Asthma triggers can vary from person to person. Some common asthma triggers are dust mites, tobacco smoke, air pollution, pet dander, and mold.

How can I reduce asthma triggers?

You can help prevent asthma attacks by knowing the triggers that cause them and modifying some of your behaviors and routines:

  • Reduce your exposure to second hand smoke, and/or stop smoking
  • Use covers on linens to reduce dust mites
  • Pay attention to air quality forecasts to reduce exposure to air pollution
  • Clean pet environment regularly to reduce pet dander
  • Reduce humidity levels in your home to reduce mold.

Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI or Heart Attack)

What are the warning signs for a heart attack?

Many think a heart attack is sudden and intense (e.g., where a person clutches his or her chest and collapses. The fact is many heart attacks start slowly as mild pain or discomfort.

Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath often comes along with chest discomfort. But it may occur before chest discomfort.

Other symptoms: Some symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

What are some contributing factors to heart disease?

Some risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes are beyond your control. These risk factors may be hereditary. Other risk factors that you can reduce, hereditary or not, include lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity and alcohol abuse.

How can I reduce the risk of having heart disease and/or a heart attack?

A combination of a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons you have to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Modify your eating habits and behaviors:

  • Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt
  • Limit beverages and foods with added sugars
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid other people’s tobacco smoke
  • Treat high blood pressure, if you have it
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Increase your physical activity:

Daily physical activity is a very important part of good health and quality of life. Physical activity reduces the risk of developing coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, arthritis and osteoporosis.

  • Work in the garden and yard
  • Go on short walks at least three times per week…start slowly and work up to 30 minutes
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Plan your family outings/vacations to include physical activity
  • Find a friend to enjoy physical activity with to keep yourself accountable

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Asthma and AMI Maps

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Asthma and AMI Data

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track it map it use it create it   About Hospitalization
For additional information, contact the SC EPHT program: epht@dhec.sc.gov
These web pages are supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 5U38EH000628-02 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.