Air pollution levels are linked to a dangerous narrowing of neck arteries that occur prior to strokes, examines a new study.
According to researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, found that people living in zip codes with the highest average levels of fine-particulate-matter pollution were significantly more likely to show signs of narrowing (stenosis) in their internal carotid arteries, compared to those living in zip codes with the lowest pollution levels.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger, assistant professor in NYU Langone Medical Center in the Department of Medicine, Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology, asserted that they spend a lot of time thinking about traditional risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking but their data underscore the possibility that everyday air pollution may also pose a significant stroke risk.
Fine particulate matter pollutants, also called "PM 2.5 pollutants", are particulates with diameters less than 2.5 millionths of a meter and they are mostly by-products of combustion engines and burning wood.
Medical researchers have noticed since the 1950s that episodes of high air pollution can bring temporary jumps in local heart attack and stroke cases. More recent studies have linked heart attack and stroke risks to long-term pollution exposures as well, including PM 2.5 exposures.
Dr. Jonathan D. Newman, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in the Department of Medicine, Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology and the study's lead author, claimed that most of the studies in this area have focused on the heart and the coronary arteries and no one has really looked at other parts of the vascular system, in particular the carotid arteries.
The study is published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology