The short-term effect of particulate matter on cardiorespiratory drug prescription, as a proxy of mild adverse events

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Introduction and aimsThe association between particulate matter < 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) and mild disease episodes, not leading to hospitalization or death, has been rarely investigated.We studied the short-term effect of PM10 on purchases of specific cardiorespiratory medications, as proxies of mild episodes, in 7 small- and medium-sized cities of Northern Italy, during 2005–2006.Materials and methodsWe extracted information on purchased prescriptions from healthcare administrative databases, and we obtained daily PM10 concentrations from fixed monitoring stations. We applied a time-stratified case-crossover design, using the time-series of antidiabetic drugs purchases to control for confounding due to irregularities in daily purchase frequencies.ResultsDuring the warm season, we estimated a delayed (lags 2–6) increased risk of buying glucocorticoid (4.53%, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.62, 6.48) and adrenergic inhalants (1.66%, 95% CI: 0.10, 3.24), following an increment (10 μg/m3) in PM10 concentration. During the cold season, we observed an immediate (lags 0–1) increased risk of purchasing antiarrhythmics (0.76%; 95% CI: 0.16, 1.36) and vasodilators (0.72%; 95% CI: 0.30, 1.13), followed by a risk reduction (lags 2–6), probably due to harvesting.ConclusionsFocusing on drug purchases, we reached sufficient statistical power to study PM10 effect outside large urban areas and conclude that short-term increments in PM10 concentrations might cause mild cardiorespiratory disease episodes.HighlightsCardiorespiratory prescriptions are stored in administrative databases.Such prescriptions can be used as tracers of mild disease episodes.We studied the relationship between PM10 and such prescriptions outside urban areas.PM10 is associated with a short-term increase in cardiorespiratory drugs consumption.

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