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Saturday, October 29, 2005 

Stroke and the Air We Breathe

"The stomach, liver, lungs and brain are suffering for want of deep,
full inspirations of air
which would electrify the blood and impart to it a bright,
lively color, and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor
to every part of the living machinery." [Ellen G. White, Testimonies Vol. 2]


Most of us have a relative or know someone who has suffered from a stroke. A stroke usually occurs when there is sudden loss of blood supply to a part of the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). It can cause problems with thinking, judgment, memory; complete paralysis on one side of the body; and even death.

There are many risk factors for stroke. A few of them are:

High blood pressure
Cigarette smoking
Diabetes
High cholesterol and triglycerides

A study by Dr. Gregory A. Wellenius, et. al. may add another factor to the list - Air Pollution.

"...the team found that an increase in particulate air pollution from the lowest to the highest levels raised ischemic stroke admissions by 1.03 percent on the same day. Further analysis yielded similar results for levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

By contrast, the investigators found no association between air pollution and hospital admission for hemorrhagic stroke.

Wellenius cited three possible mechanisms, which alone or in combination might explain how air pollution promotes stroke. "One possibility is through inflammatory effects. The other is through pulmonary reflexes that trigger changes in blood pressure or heart rate." A third possibility is changes in clotting factors that tend to promote more blood clots.

"Taken together with previous reports, the results suggest that reducing exposure to air pollution is likely to reduce the risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke," Wellenius concluded. [Yahoo! Health News Oct. 28, 2005]

Unfortunately, Metro Manila is one of the cities with increased levels of air pollution. In its 2000 Annual Review, the World Bank reported that more than 4000 Filipinos died of air pollution in Manila alone. In addition 90,000 suffer from severe chronic bronchitis. [Earthvision News]

Many laws passed by the government in an effort to curb air pollution, but it seems to be getting worse. Although air pollution may be considered an avoidable risk factor of stroke, if the Filipinos don't band together and do something about it, the only way to avoid this risk factor may be to leave the country (which doesn't sound so bad right now *sic*).

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