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A recent study published in March in the American Heart Association journal Stroke suggests that air pollution and excessive exposure to artificial light could increase the risk of stroke. The research involved over 28,300 adults in China and found that those with the highest exposure to outdoor light at night had a 43% higher chance of developing cerebrovascular disease. Additionally, chronic bright light exposure was associated with a suppression of melatonin production, which can impair sleep and increase stroke risk. Air pollution from burning fuels, dust, smoke, and nitrogen oxide emissions were also linked to a greater risk of stroke.

Cardiologists who commented on the study recommend taking precautions to reduce exposure to artificial light and air pollution. They suggest limiting light exposure to daytime hours, going for walks in the morning or at lunch to set your biological clock, and turning down lights in the evening to promote healthy sleep patterns. Protective measures for outdoor exposure include wearing tinted glasses, wide-brimmed hats, and face coverings to minimize air pollution inhalation. Indoor precautions such as avoiding screens before bed and using black-out shades can also help reduce stroke risk.

It’s important to remember that while the study’s findings are significant, it has limitations, and further research is needed to establish a causal relationship between artificial light, air pollution, and stroke risk. Other factors such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes also contribute to stroke risk, regardless of environmental exposure. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep, is essential in reducing the risk of stroke.

The study emphasizes the impact of environmental factors on health and highlights the prevalence of light pollution and air pollution in modern societies. As cities continue to expand and modernize, exposure to artificial light and air pollution may become more significant health risks. By being aware of these risks and taking steps to protect oneself, individuals can work towards reducing their risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Further research is needed to confirm the study’s findings in other cities around the world and to explore additional preventive measures for stroke risk reduction.

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