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Fracking Activity May Up Heart Failure Hospitalization Risk

Risk for heart failure hospitalization increased with pad preparation, stimulation, production phases of fracking activity

a woman holding her hand on the heart

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with heart failure, environmental exposures to three of four phases of unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) are associated with increased risk for hospitalization, according to a study published in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Tara P. McAlexander, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the odds of hospitalization among patients with heart failure seen from 2008 to 2015 at Geisinger using electronic health records. Metrics of UNGD activity were assigned by phase (pad preparation, drilling, stimulation, and production) 30 days before hospitalization or a frequency-matched control selection date. A total of 9,054 patients with heart failure with 5,839 hospitalizations were identified.

The researchers found that the adjusted odds ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) for hospitalization were 1.70 (1.35 to 2.13), 0.97 (0.75 to 1.27), 1.80 (1.35 to 2.40), and 1.62 (1.07 to 2.45) for pad preparation, drilling, stimulation, and production, respectively, comparing the fourth to first quartiles. There was no effect modification noted by reduced ejection fraction or preserved ejection fraction status. Those with more severe heart failure at baseline had stronger associations of most UNGD metrics with hospitalization.

"Our findings suggest that individuals living with heart failure, when exposed to greater UNGD activity, are more likely to be hospitalized, particularly in those with more severe heart failure at baseline," McAlexander said in a statement.

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