We all know that eating certain foods and lack of exercise can increase our risk of having a stroke or heart attack but can the very air we breathe increase our risk? I bet most of us did not know that. Several studies have shown that air pollution can increase our risk of having a heart attack or stroke after even a few hours of exposure.
Scientists have found that people exposed to high level of pollutants, including carbon monoxide and fine particulates emitted by cars and manufacturing facilities, were up to 5% more likely to suffer a heart attack within days of exposure than those with lower exposure
In a different study scientists found that even air the EPA rates as of “moderate” quality and considers to be relatively safe can boost the risk of stroke as much as 34% within 12 to 14 hours of exposure.
According to CNN scientists estimate that a 20% reduction of levels of fine particulate matter would have prevented 6,100 of the 184,000 stroke hospitalizations that occurred in the northeastern United States in 2007.
This does not mean you should give up walking as exercise.
Air pollution is lowest in the morning which is also when most of us experience cooler temperatures. This is a good argument for starting your day with a vigorous walk before the heat and pollution levels rise.