Asthma and Heart Attack Hospitalization Data


People are hospitalized for many different reasons. To help understand environmental impacts on human health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks two broad categories of hospitalization indicators:

  • Hospitalizations for asthma
  • Hospitalizations for heart attacks (more formally known as acute myocardial infarction or AMI).

By studying these indicators over time, the SC Environmental Public Health Tracking (SC EPHT) Program hopes to gain a better understanding of the possible health effects and risks from exposure to certain environmental factors — for example, air pollution — as they relate to specific groups of people. This will help SC EPHT promote awareness and create educational tools to better inform vulnerable communities.

Hospitalizations for Asthma

Asthma and the Environment 
Asthma is a long-term (chronic) condition that affects the lungs/respiratory system and can make it difficult for a person to breathe. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing. People with asthma have more sensitive airways and may experience a more severe reaction to infections and environmental factors such as allergens like pollen, and irritants like smoke.

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 respiratory illnesses. Asthma can be triggered and/or aggravated by exposure to many different environmental contaminants, including particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone. These indicators are also tracked by the SC EPHT program.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established an Air Quality Indexto provide guidance about the air quality in your area on any given day.

Hospitalizations for Heart Attacks (AMI)

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.

Studies both in the United States and abroad have shown associations between short- and long-term exposure to PM 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 
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 SC EPHT program tracks hospitalization for AMI's in order to obtain more information about the associations that has been identified between this medical condition and air pollution. Through tracking, DHEC, the CDC, and other research groups have been able to identify and monitor trends over time, as well as potentially identify groups of people at high risk who can be targeted for prevention programs.

Please note that the data reported in the following Track It. Map It. section related to health outcomes represent 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.

Tracking and Mapping the Data

Use this interactive tool to choose hospitalization indicators and measures to generate maps, bar charts and trend lines. 
Track it. Map It.

Understanding how the data are collected, calculated, and interpreted. 
Dataset Details

Take Action

There are known associations between air pollution exposures and hospitalizations for asthma, heart attack and other forms of heart disease. Both ground-level ozone and particulate matter can affect lung function by aggravating asthma and potentially increasing one's risk of heart attack.

Below are some precautionary measures you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your impact on the environment.

Ground-level Ozone
Protect Yourself and Your Family:

  • Know the ground-level ozone forecast of your location.
  • Limit exercise and/or exertion outside on high concentration ozone days.
  • Select water-based solvents and paints, or those with low concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

Reduce Your Impact on the Environment:

  • Shop by phone, mail, or the internet during ozone season.
  • Telecommute or work flex hours.
  • Carpool or use mass transit when possible.

Particulate Matter 

Protect Yourself and Your Family:

  • Avoid vigorous physical activity on days that have poor air quality.
  • Avoid dusty and smoky areas.
  • Do not exercise near busy roads.

Reduce Your Impact on the Environment:

  • Reduce travel on days with poor air quality.
  • Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste instead of burning it.
  • Use battery-powered lawn and garden equipment.


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