Air quality is very important to our health, but a group of people is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of air quality: the elderly.
In terms of health, various factors have caused the elderly to become vulnerable groups. Their lungs have more "junk" than most of us because they breathe longer. They may be smokers or may be attracted to smokers' homes at an age when smoking is acceptable. Because of these things, their lungs are usually less able than their younger lungs.
Older people have less lung elasticity and are less able to filter contaminated air than when they are younger. In addition, the immune system of older people is more compromised than younger people. Their immune system does not kill or isolate foreign particles as before, and is not agile. Therefore, they take longer to heal and sometimes they can't heal. For those with autoimmune diseases, the problem is even more serious because their bodies are busy fighting things that shouldn't be fighting, or being suppressed by medication. If the elderly are fighting any type of respiratory disease or infection or have a certain cardiovascular disease, the heart will not function properly due to the inability to breathe well, and the impact of the pollution will be more serious.
Fine particulate matter in the air, especially 2.5 micron or smaller (PM2.5), increases the risk of hospitalization in the elderly, even if exposure is only for a short period of time. Very fine particles inhaled by the elderly penetrate into the deep layers of the lungs and cannot be removed, especially in the elderly. These small particles reach the small airways and alveoli and cause chronic dyspnea and cardiovascular problems. When the lungs cannot get enough air due to the penetration of these small particles, the rest of the body cannot get enough oxygen. Its immediate effects include ischemic effects that can be seen in the heart and brain.
Basically, without enough oxygen, the heart can stop beating or beating irregularly, the brain can be destroyed, and the patient may suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or even chronic respiratory disease. The impact on the hearts of the elderly is particularly evident.
Another effect of infiltrating small particles into the deep lungs is that the body tries to combat the "foreign invasion" of the particles. In the elderly, antibody responses are often weakened, but the inflammatory response is often exaggerated. Studies have shown that these patients appear to have large amounts of cytokine release in their systems, a chemical associated with increased systemic inflammation. Inflammation reduces the function of any organ, including the lungs and heart, due to its nature.