World Stroke Day: Can Air Pollution Increase Your Risk of Stroke?
The presence of harmful substances in the atmosphere can damage the climate, ecological balance, and human health.
Air pollution is not a new problem faced by mankind. However, we are sometimes not fully seized of its dire consequences.
Evidence from various studies clearly show that air pollution adversely impacts the heart and brain.
The increasing effect of air pollution on our health is now a major public health concern.
The effects of air pollution on the respiratory system are documented. However, many of us are unaware that air pollution can also increase risk of stroke.
Many epidemiological studies have unequivocally corroborated the direct association of air pollution with an increase in stroke incidence.
Air pollution increases the risk of stroke by hardening arteries, thickening of blood, and raising blood pressure, all of which increase the likelihood of clots in the brain.
However, it may have more immediate effects, such as rupturing plaques that build up in arteries, which can lead to impaired circulation.
Changing lifestyles and urbanization have increased the prevalence of stroke risk factors. Survivors of stroke live with disabilities, imposing a huge cost on long-term care of these individuals.
According to the World Stroke Organization "Global Factsheet 2019," over 116 million of healthy lives are lost each year due to stroke-related death and disability.
Presence of PM2.5 polluting particles is equivalent to cigarette smoking as far as health risks are concerned.
Cigarette smoking is of course clearly linked to an increased risk of stroke. While smoking is intermittent, inhaling contaminated air is constant.
The poison is literally in every breath we take!
Exposure to air pollutants can be reduced by taking steps such as walking instead of using a car, carpooling to the fullest extent possible, and properly disposing of waste.
In polluted areas, use a mask and avoid driving in heavy traffic. Pollution should be avoided by people who have heart disease, asthma, or are on immunosuppressive medicine.
Exposure to air pollutants can be reduced by walking instead of driving, carpooling to the greatest extent possible, and properly disposing of waste.
In polluted areas, wear a mask and avoid driving in congested areas. People who have heart disease, asthma, or are on immunosuppressive medication should avoid pollution.
There are many contributors that increase the burden of stroke, but controlling the sources of air pollution, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and other modifiable risks can be eliminated through our combined efforts.
Ambient air pollution is a problem that influences people of every age, class, status in every part of the world.
While many other factors increase the risk of stroke, controlling air pollution is one of the most effective ways of preventing this catastrophic illness.
(The author, Dr (Lt Gen) CS Narayanan, is the HOD And a Consultant in the Department of Neurology HCMCT, at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.)
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