According to new findings from the NYU Langone Medical Center, highly polluted air in parts of New York state could greatly increase the risk of strokes. This is because dirty air can cause the arteries in the head and neck to narrow (Carotid Artery Stenosis), limiting oxygen to the brain. The study, conducted by Dr. Jonathon Newman, examined 30,000 New York area residents and found that the risk of oxygen shortage to the brain increases by nearly 25% in the most polluted areas of the state.

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Carotid Artery Stenosis is responsible for half the strokes in the country and, as evidenced by the recent study, pollution can be a trigger element. “Pollution could be that extra little push that could lead to a cardiovascular event,” said Dr. Jonathan Newman, who published his findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology this week.

Related: Mayor de Blasio Announces Biggest Update to NYC’s Air Pollution Control Code Since 1975

According to federal standards, humans can safely be exposed to 12 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter of air. However, the most contaminated parts of the tri-state area, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, register levels up to 14.7 micrograms, essentially raising the risk of a stroke by 8.1-24.3%.

Although New York’s air quality has drastically improved over the last three decades, the city still doesn’t meet federal standards for fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone, two harmful pollutants. Two neighborhoods in particular, Gramercy and Chelsea, have pollution levels of 18% and 9.5% above federal standards.

To cut the risk of stroke, Dr. Newman advises people who are already at high risk (smokers, and those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol) to stay indoors on days when smog and ozone levels are particularly bad.

Via NY Daily News

Lead Image Via ericskiff