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Air pollution found to increase risk of ischemic stroke

It has been established from a study that exposure to polluted air is associated with a significant increase in the incidence// of ischemic stroke that occurs when a blood clot travels to the brain.

Researchers examined the air quality on a total of 37,000 days in nine separate cities, and found that risk of hospitalization for ischemic stroke was one percent higher on days with relatively high levels of air pollution, compared with low-air pollution days.

These effects sound very small when compared to the magnitude of persons exposed to air pollution. However when taking into consideration the large number of people at risk for stroke, from a public-health perspective the actual number of strokes could be significant, according to the researchers.

The researchers have previously established a 'consistent increased risk' for cardiac health problems associated with exposure to ambient air particles. Air pollution has been shown to trigger heart attacks and to aggravate the conditions of patients with congestive heart failure.

The effect is more pronounced in case of particulate air pollution that includes particles from car and truck exhaust, power plants and refineries. The measurements were provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from nine U.S. cities.

Medicare patients with an average age of 79 years were analyzed only to demonstrate a 1.03 % rise in ischemic stroke on the days with the highest pollution measures.

These new findings, demonstrating that incidence of clot-based strokes also increase, is in keeping with our earlier data showing a relationship between air pollution and heart and lung disorders. The authors say that future research will focus on finding out which pollutants are most toxic, and which patients are at greatest risk for health problems stemming from air pollution.

The fact that reducing exposure to particulate matter may reduce the risk of strokes and heart att acks is a very promising finding towards preventing such disorders.

Medindia on Brain:

The brain has been compared to a giant telephone exchange or to a computer. It functions as both, handling incoming and out going calls, and making decisions, as diverse as whether to laugh or cry and whether the temperature of the body should be higher or lower, on the basis of information fed into it.

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