Living near green areas to reduce ictus risk

A study conducted by IMIM, ISGlobal and AQuAS has found that having plenty of green spaces within 300 metres of the home can reduce the risk of stroke by 16%.

Exposure to green spaces has beneficial health effects. In fact, in this study it has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. Credit: photo by Dollar Gill o:n Unsplash

Higher exposure to air pollution increases the risk of ictus, the most common type of stroke. On the other hand, living near green areas reduces this risk. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya (AQuAS).

This is the most important research carried out to date in this field, as it has analysed the situation of 3.5 million people throughout Catalonia. This work has studied the effects on health of 3 types of atmospheric pollutants, PM2.5, NO2 and soot, as well as the fact of living near green spaces, specifically within 300 metres of these.

The results obtained show a direct link between the increase in NO2 levels and the risk of suffering a stroke. For every 10µg/m3 increase of this pollutant, the risk of ictus increases by 4%. Therefore, Cathryn Toonne, researcher at ISGlobal, says “NO2 is caused nearly exclusively by road traffic. So if we want to reduce the multiple risks of this pollutant we need to implement bold measures to reduce car use“.

“The importance of environmental determinants in stroke risk has been demonstrated. And, in this study, it has been observed that a higher degree of green areas close to the place of residence acts as a protective factor”

Carla Avellaneda (IMIM researcher)

On the other hand, living near green areas can reduce the risk of suffering a stroke by up to 16%. Carla Avellaneda, IMIM researcher and one of the main authors of the study, points out that “the importance of environmental determinants in the risk of stroke has been demonstrated, and a greater degree of green areas in the place of residence acts as a protective factor”.

These data should make us reflect on the levels of pollution that are currently considered safe. As Rosa María Vivanco, lead author of the study and researcher at AQuAS and IMIM, says, “the levels set by the European Union are being met, but we are faced with the paradox that there is still a risk to health“. For this reason, the research team urges that new, more sustainable measures be taken to protect the population.

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