Airborne Pollen Concentrations and Emergency Room Visits for Myocardial Infarction: A Multicity Case-Crossover Study in Ontario, Canada

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Apr 1;183(7):613-21. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv252. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Few studies have examined the acute cardiovascular effects of airborne allergens. We conducted a case-crossover study to evaluate the relationship between airborne allergen concentrations and emergency room visits for myocardial infarction (MI) in Ontario, Canada. In total, 17,960 cases of MI were identified between the months of April and October during the years 2004-2011. Daily mean aeroallergen concentrations (pollen and mold spores) were assigned to case and control periods using central-site monitors in each city along with daily measurements of meteorological data and air pollution (nitrogen dioxide and ozone). Odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were estimated using conditional logistic regression models adjusting for time-varying covariates. Risk of MI was 5.5% higher (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.4, 7.6) on days in the highest tertile of total pollen concentrations compared with days in the lowest tertile, and a significant concentration-response trend was observed (P < 0.001). Higher MI risk was limited to same-day pollen concentrations, with the largest risks being observed during May (odds ratio = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.35) and June (odds ratio = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.22), when tree and grass pollen are most common. Mold spore concentrations were not associated with MI. Our findings suggest that airborne pollen might represent a previously unidentified environmental risk factor for myocardial infarction.

Keywords: airborne pollen; case-crossover studies; myocardial infarction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cities / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / immunology*
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Pollen / adverse effects*


  • Allergens