Air pollution is a major risk factor for stroke

Air pollution is a major risk factor for stroke

Air pollution is a major risk factor for stroke

Air pollution is a major risk factor for stroke, according to a new analysis of global trends published in The Lancet Neurology.

According to the new study, environmental and household air pollution is a leading risk factor for stroke globally, and is associated with about a third of the worldwide burden.

The study findings show that 90 percent of stroke incidences worldwide are linked to risk factors that can be adjusted, such as smoking, diet, and low physical activity. The researchers estimate that about three-quarters of stroke incidences can be prevented by simply controlling these factors.

The study is the first to analyze stroke risk factors globally in such detail.

According to the study, the top ten global risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, diet low in fruit, high body mass index (BMI), diet high in sodium, smoking, diet low in vegetables, environmental air pollution, household pollution from solid fuels, diet low in whole grains, and high blood sugar.

A striking finding of our study is the unexpectedly high proportion of stroke burden attributable to environmental air pollution, especially in developing countries. Smoking, poor diet and low physical activity are some of the major risk factors for stroke worldwide, suggesting that stroke is largely a disease caused by lifestyle risk factors. Controlling these risk factors could prevent about three-quarters of strokes worldwide.” says lead author Professor Valery L Feigin, of Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.

Our findings are important for helping national governments and international agencies to develop and prioritise public health programmes and policies. Governments have the power and responsibility to influence these risk factors through legislation and taxation of tobacco, alcohol, salt, sugar or saturated fat content, while health service providers have the responsibility to check and treat risk factors such as high blood pressure,” he says.

Taxation has been proven to be the most effective strategy in reducing exposure to smoking and excessive intake of salt, sugar and alcohol. If these risks take a toll on our health, and taxation is the best way to reduce exposure to these risks, it logically follows that governments should introduce such taxation and reinvest the resulting revenue back into the health of the population by funding much needed preventative programmes and research in primary prevention and health. All it takes is recognition of the urgent need to improve primary prevention, and the good will of the governments to act,” says Professor Feigin.

The study showing that air pollution is a major risk factor for stroke was published in The Lancet Neurology.

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1. “The Lancet Neurology: For the First Time, Air Pollution Emerges as a Leading Risk Factor for Stroke Worldwide.” EurekAlert! The Lancet, n.d. Web. 18 June 2016.
2. “Global Burden of Stroke and Risk Factors in 188 Countries, during 1990–2013: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.” The Lancet Neurology. The Lancet, n.d. Web. 18 June 2016.

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