Long-term exposure to household air pollution may increase your risk of heart attacks and death, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

“Our study, using exposure history and time, is the first to find a significant and independent increased risk for all-cause, total cardiovascular disease and heart attack deaths due to increasing lifetime exposures to household air pollution from kerosene or diesel burning,” said Sumeet Mitter, M.D., lead researcher and cardiovascular disease fellow at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

“We already know that smoking tobacco products and outside air pollution are linked to heart disease death.”

In the observational study of a community in northeastern Iran, researchers measured exposure from indoor pollution generated from burning kerosene, wood, diesel, cow dung and natural gas after participants completed lifestyle questionnaires. About 74 percent of the 50,045 study participants were of Turkmen ancestry and 80 percent lived in rural areas.

Half of the world’s population lives in poverty and burns fuels for lighting, cooking and heating, according to the World Health Organization.

Researchers, regularly documenting blood pressure and other body measurements, found that participants who burned kerosene or diesel had a 6 percent higher risk of dying from all causes during a 10-year period; 11 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death; and 14 percent increase in ischemic (clot-caused) heart disease.

Conversely, those who used burning cleaner fuels such as natural gas had a 6 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to other fuels.

“Since heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, it is important for physicians to assess for a number of modifiable risk factors for heart disease, including household air pollution, so that they can intervene and help patients and communities worldwide transition to cleaner burning fuels and reduce the risk for cardiovascular death,” Mitter said.