• arjun vikraman

Air Pollution in India could result in increased risk of Strokes

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Shruti Verma

8th November 2020

With the increase in air pollution in the country, strokes have become a significant cause of death and disabilities among Indians.

A recent article by Times Now, revealed a report by the US-based Health Effects Institute, which analysed the global air quality and categorized air pollution as the largest risk factor for death in Indians.

While there is awareness about the risk of cancers, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases caused due to air pollution, not many people know about the increasing dangers of strokes due to exposure to toxic air pollutants. According to The Weather Channel, the rate of strokes has significantly increased in India over the years, making the Ischemic stroke today's third leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability. Other factors that have contributed to raising the rate of strokes in India include the ageing population, increasing incidence of diabetes and hypertension, lifestyle changes, and environmental factors.

Air Pollution in India (Source- Quartz)

According to an article by The Hindu, Epidemiological research and study have shown a clear link between stroke and air pollution, which was not well understood 30 years back. Studies undertaken were of the view that the effects of air pollutants on Ischemic stroke mortality were statistically significant. The main culprits in inducing a severe pathogenic process in the cerebrovascular system were sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide. Another study stated that particulate matter was the most toxic, contributing to about one-third of the global burden of stroke. This study identified air pollution as a new adaptable neurovascular risk factor, requiring public health intervention.

The Indian government has launched a long-term policy push to shift the vehicular fleet to electric vehicles. Air pollution needs to be recognized more widely as one of the most important adaptable risk factors for preventing and managing cardiovascular disease and stroke. To reduce air pollution, we need to promote behavioural changes by promoting cycling, walking, and public transport, as well as cleaner fuels, to reduce harmful tailpipe emissions from personal vehicles. Individuals should also exercise and reduce their exposure to harmful toxins in the air.

According to an article by The Times Now News, Lack of awareness, absence of preventive strategies, shortage of neurologists, and poor access to recovery make strokes difficult to survive. People are falling prey to disability and paralysis as a result of strokes. In rural areas, physiotherapy remains highly inaccessible, and affordable access to rehabilitation centres is another critical gap in stroke management that needs to be filled.

(Source-Times Now News, The Hindu, The Weather Channel)

Edited by – Nivedita Dutta

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