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Stroke Risk Increases with Poor Air Quality

March 25, 2015
Public Health

smogA new study in the British Medical Journal has linked poor air quality with an increased risk of stroke. Scientists at Edinburgh University used data from 94 studies covering 28 countries around the world, finding a consistent trend between short term increases in pollution and hospital admissions for stroke.

As lead author Dr Anoop Shah pointed out, this is the first time a link has been made with short-term exposures: “This study now demonstrates that even short-term exposure to air pollution can trigger disabling strokes or death from stroke,” he said. “One of the key differences between risk of stroke due to air pollution and other risk factors such as smoking or high blood pressure is that the whole general population is exposed.

As such, this increased risk of stroke is in the general population and not just those previously thought to be at high risk.”

Researchers looked at a wide range of pollutants including carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5s. The risk of stroke rising by 1.4% for every 10 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere.

The new research comes as the government are due in the Supreme Court on April 16th to explain its failure to deal with poor air quality, which has seen levels in 16 cities persistently breach EU targets. Research sponsors the British Heart Foundation are urging people already at risk of stroke to monitor air pollution where they live and work.

You can view the BMJ study here