In the March 23rd issue of JAMA, air pollution is highlighted as am emerging global risk factor for strokes.
Air pollution exposure is already considered to have an important association with mortality world-wide. In fact, in high income countries, 2.5% of all deaths are associated with air pollution. It’s important to note that air pollution has an association with strokes and is not a direct cause based on the information we have now. Although, the American Heart Association has updated their statement on air pollution and it’s relationship with cardiovascular disease and deaths (like heart attacks) saying “The overall evidence is consistent with Particulate Matter playing a causal role in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”
The role of air pollution in strokes has not yet been studied thoroughly. It will probably be a while before we have further scientific evidence regarding air pollutions impact on strokes. But, it’s important to remember that it’s not just individual risk factors like obesity and high cholesterol that have increased the incidence in strokes. Our environmental risk factors are also changing and may be having more of an impact on our health that we realize.
Brooke Uptagrafft, MD
Dr. Brooke is a family medicine doctor.