Air pollution as a leading risk factor for stroke

iStock_000019071669XSmallEach year, worldwide approximately 15 million people have a stroke. Of witch, 6,000,000 die and 5,000,000 remain permanently paralyzed, what becomes the second most common cause of disability. Recent studies show air pollution as a leading risk factor for stroke in the world.

A stroke occurs as a result of decreased perfusion which may be caused by either abrupt closure of the vessel wall and its bursting. The consequence of poor perfusion of the brain is rapid and irreversible neuronal death. Depending on the location and size of vessels supplying the brain can lead to paralysis, loss of speech, vision, or even death.

It is currently believed that 90% of global cause of stroke is associated with modifiable risk factors. Among them we distinguish the 10 major risk factors such as high blood pressure, low intake of fruits, high body mass index (BMI), high sodium intake, cigarette smoking, low intake of vegetables, air pollution, environmental pollution appliances, low consumption of natural fiber and high blood sugar levels.

The study, whose results were published in The Lancet Neurology, show that air pollution is associated with about one-third of cases of stroke and amounts to 33.7 % in developing countries and 10.2% in developed countries. Air pollution refers to both atmospheric as well and the home environment.

To get a clearer picture, global trends risk factors for stroke in the years 1990-2013 were used to estimate the proportion of cancers in the population that will be averted, if the exposure to the risk factor would be removed. According to the team, control of these risk factors can prevent nearly 75 percent of all strokes.

Based on the studies reported, there are five most important risk factors for stroke in some countries.Britain and the United States: high blood pressure, high BMI, low fruit intake, low intake of vegetables, smoking.India: high blood pressure, low fruit consumption, air pollution, household, low vegetable intake, high sodium intake.China: high blood pressure, low fruit intake, high sodium intake, cigarette smoking, air pollution on the environment.

Prof. Vladimir Hachinski from the University of Western Ontario in Canada believes that the impact of air pollution on the formation of strokes is indisputable. He says he often talks about the impact of air pollution on the respiratory system forgetting its important base in the pathogenesis of stroke.

Air pollution is still a serious problem in the world, so it is important to raise public awareness of the adverse action.

Written by: Erwin Ciechański, Jaromir Ziomek, Katarzyna Skarbek

Sources: 1.Global burden of stroke and risk factors in 188 countries, during 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, Dr. Valery L Feigin et al., The Lancet Neurology, doi:, published online 9 June 2016
2.The Lancet news release, accessed 10 June 201
3.World Heart Federation, Stroke, accessed 10 June 2016.

Would You like to know more? Watch on Stroke Evaluation Simulation 1

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