The alarming study shows the global effects environmental air pollution is having on our health with one-third of strokes potentially attributing to poor air quality.
A new study has revealed the alarming effects that air pollution has on the brain, heart and lungs with almost a third of all strokes caused by unclean air. The findings have shocked scientists that had previously underestimated the risk factors that air pollution pose like the burning of fossil fuels that release fine particulate matter into the air.
The worldwide research was carried out by scientists at Auckland University of Technology and analysed data from 1990 to 2013 in 188 countries to find the risk factors of stroke. They found that most strokes could be avoided by lifestyle change but were amazed to find nearly 30 percent of strokes could be avoided if air quality was improved.
“We did not expect the effect would be of this magnitude, or increasing so much over the last two decades. Our study is the first to demonstrate a large and increasingly hazardous effect of air pollution on stroke burden worldwide,” stated Professor Valery Feigin, head of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at Auckland University of Technology.
The majority of countries suffering are developing countries with 33.7 percent compared with developed countries that only sees a 10.2 percent risk of pollution-related strokes. Power plants, fossil fuels and vehicles are a major source of environmental pollution in these countries.
“As one of the main sources of air pollution is car emissions, staying away from the streets, especially at rush hour, or avoiding busy roads, can help to reduce exposure to air pollution,” explains Feigin.
Professor Vladimir Hachinski, of the University of Western Ontario commented on the research stating that we need to be worried about the effects air pollution in different countries is doing to our own health.
“Although air pollution is known to damage the lungs, heart, and brain, the extent of this threat seems to have been underestimated. Air pollution is not just a problem in big cities, but is also a global problem. With the ceaseless air streams across oceans and continents, what happens in Beijing matters in Berlin.”
The research was published in the journal Lancet Neurology.