Recent studies have found increases in the cardiovascular mortality rates during poor air quality events due to outbreaks of desert dust. In Tenerife, we collected (2014-2017) data in 829 patients admitted with a heart failure diagnosis in the Emergency Department of the University Hospital of the Canaries. In this region, concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 are usually low (~20 and 10 µg/m3), but they increase to 360 and 115 μg/m3, respectively, during Saharan dust events. By using statistical tools (including multivariable logistic regressions), we compared in-hospital mortality of patients with heart failure and exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 during dust and no-dust events. We found that 86% of in-hospital heart failure mortality cases occurred during Saharan dust episodes that resulted in PM10 > 50 µg/m3 (interquartile range: 71-96 µg/m3). A multivariate analysis showed that, after adjusting for other covariates, exposure to Saharan dust events associated with PM10 > 50 µg/m3 was an independent predictor of heart failure in-hospital mortality (OR = 2.79, 95% CI (1.066-7.332), p = 0.03). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that exposure to high Saharan dust concentrations is independently associated with in-hospital mortality in patients with heart failure.
Keywords: Saharan dust; dust belt; heart failure; in-hospital mortality.