Air Pollution Can Trigger Stroke and Memory Loss

Did you know this? Air pollution can cause strokes and memory loss! Or so say two new studies, published on February 13 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. While One explored the link between air pollution and stroke; the other reported a link between air pollution and cognitive decline in seniors.

The investigators reviewed the medical records of 1,705Bostonarea patients hospitalized with neurologist-confirmed ischemic stroke and abstracted data regarding the time of symptom appearance and clinical characteristics.

The health of our lungs and entire respiratory system is affected by the quality of the air we breathe.  In addition to oxygen, this air contains other substances such as pollutants, which can be harmful.

Exposure to chemicals by inhalation can negatively affect our lungs and other organs in the body.  The respiratory system is particularly sensitive to air pollutants because much of it is made up of exposed membrane.

Lungs are anatomically structured to bring large quantities of air (on average, 400 million litres in a lifetime) into intimate contact with the blood system, to facilitate the delivery of oxygen. Lung tissue cells can be injured directly by air pollutants such as ozone, metals and free radicals.

Although asthma may not be directly caused by air pollution, asthma attacks can be triggered by high levels of air pollution. The health condition asthma can also be caused by air pollution.

The findings from these two studies do not prove that pollutants, themselves, are responsible for cognitive decline; however, previous studies have reported negative effects on the heart and blood vessels from air pollution.

Although the researchers of both studies noted that there are ways that individuals can limit their exposure to air pollution, they note that the EPA might have to reconsider acceptable upper limits for pollutants.

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