According to a shocking new study, long-term exposure to tiny particles of air pollution could result in thinking and memory problems, as well as increasing the chance of silent strokes. The findings were published in the journal Stroke last Thursday.
Lead researcher, Elissa Walker of the Harvard Medical School in Boston found out that those fine particles, no bigger than 2,5 micrometers in diamater, that are released by car exhaust, burning of wood or coal and other sources, could shrink your brain and eventually may lead to silent stroke.
A person who is experiencing a silent stroke, may not be aware of having one, but receives the negative effects that come with a stroke.
“Our findings suggest that air pollution is associated with insidious effects on brain aging, even in relatively healthy older people,” said Elissa Wilker.
Overall, 943 adults at the age of 60 or older from Framingham, Mass., took part in the research study. None of the participants had dementia or had endured a stroke when the study began. Also, people who took part in the study lived in the New England region and New York areas, where the level of air pollution is fairly low compared to other places in the world.
The researchers used MRIs between 1995 and 2005 to determine what kind of effect long-term exposure to air pollution had on the participants brain over time. According to the findings, a relatively small amout of air pollution could result in a 0.3 percent smaller brain size. The study also found out, that those tiny particles of air pollution increased the risk of silent stroke by 46 percent, a disease which is associated with dementia.
According to several studies, air pollutants have been linked to chronic inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, lung and brain diseases. Scientists believe that areas where air pollution is at record levels or considerably high, could cause brain inflammation, brain damage and other major medical problems.