Poor air quality heightens stroke risk: DAK on world stroke day

Srinagar, Oct 29: On world stroke day, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday said exposure to air pollution increases the risk of stroke.

“Poor air quality heightens your chances of getting a stroke,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

Dr Hassan said according to a new study published in Journal Neurology short exposure of just 5 days to air pollutants could increase a person’s risk of stroke.

Previous studies have established a link between long term exposure to air pollution and increased risk of stroke. But the new study shows that even short term exposure poses heightened risk

The study analysed more than 18 million cases of ischemic stroke – which is the most common type of stroke caused by a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain.

Researchers looked at different pollutants and different sizes of particulate matter.

The analysis found that stroke risk rose 28% when people had been exposed to nitrogen dioxide, 26% when exposed to carbon monoxide, 15% when exposed to sulphur dioxide and 5% when exposed to ozone.

Higher concentration of PM2.5 was linked to a 15% increased risk of stroke with PM10 at 14% and PM1 at 9%.

“Higher levels of air pollution were also linked to higher risk of death from stroke,” he said.

The DAK President said air quality in Kashmir has been constantly deteriorating for the past few years due to increasing number of vehicles, constructions, brick kilns, cement and other factories which emit pollutants and significantly pollute the air.

“The pollution hits dangerous levels during winter months due to elevated level of biofuel emission from domestic sector,” he said.

Dr Nisar said over the years stroke cases are on the rise in Kashmir valley. Not only elderly, we are seeing increase in number of strokes among younger people.

“While smoking, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol remain important risk factors for stroke, in Kashmir many people with none of these risk factors come to hospitals with strokes and air pollution could be a factor,” he said.

“There is an urgent need to create policies that reduce air pollution. That would reduce the number of strokes which is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the valley,” he added.

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