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Allergies Health Center

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More Serious Than Sneezing? High Pollen Linked to Death


People with COPD should be less worried about the pollen outdoors than they are about the smoke indoors, according to a respiratory disease expert. "We have no proof that any of the people who died were allergic. The vast majority of patients with COPD, for example, do not have allergies," Eric Schenkel, MD, tells WebMD.

In severe allergic reactions, the body secretes histamine, a compound that can have an effect on the heart. In severe asthma, lack of oxygen can also cause heart rhythm problems, he says.

"There's no evidence whatsoever that inhalation of pollution causes cardiac problems, though." Schenkel is an allergist who focuses on COPD and is the director of Valley Clinical Research Center in Easton, Pa. He is also a clinical assistant professor of medicine at MCP/Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

The study was funded by the Ministry of the Environment in the Netherlands.

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that people are more likely to die from heart disease and certain respiratory conditions on days with high pollen counts.
  • Pollen is known to trigger allergies, but deaths related to this are extremely rare and unable to account for the findings.
  • Other studies have shown a similar increase in the death rate related to air pollution, very warm weather, and very cold weather.

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