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Continuous exposure to air pollution can increase your chances of getting dementia

Published on:31 March 2020, 13:36pm IST
According to this study the cases of dementia is projected to triple in the next 30 years. That’s scary.
IANS
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Air pollution has a major role in development of dementia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you think that you are accustomed to the air you breathe then it’s time to rethink as it’s not just bad for your lungs but for your mind too. 

According to the study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, people continuously exposed to air pollution are at increased risk of dementia, especially if they also suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

As per researchers, patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) who live in polluted environments may require additional support from care providers to prevent dementia.

early signs of dementia
Is your parent getting forgetful? It can the first sign of dementia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The cases of dementia will be triple in the next 30 years
“Interestingly, we were able to establish harmful effects on human health at levels below current air pollution standards,” said study first author Giulia Grande from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Grande added:

The findings suggest air pollution does play a role in the development of dementia, and mainly through the intermediate step of cardiovascular disease and especially stroke.

According to the study, the number of people living with dementia is projected to triple in the next 30 years globally.

No treatment as such make this situation scarier
No curative treatment has been identified and the search for modifiable risk and protective factors remains a public health priority.

Recent studies have linked both cardiovascular disease and air pollution to the development of dementia, but findings on the air pollution-link have been scarce and inconsistent.

To reach the conclusion, the researchers examined the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and dementia and what role cardiovascular diseases play in that association.

Almost 3,000 adults with an average age of 74 and living in the Kungsholmen district in central Stockholm were followed for up to 11 years. Of those, 364 people developed dementia.

dementia and Alzheimer's risk
Healthy lifestyle could help offset the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The annual average level of particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in width (PM2.5) are considered low compared to international standards.

For the last five years of exposure, the risk of dementia increased by more than 50% per interquartile range (IQR) difference in mean PM2.5 levels and by 14% per IQR in nitrogen oxide, the researchers said.

Not just heart but air pollution is bad for your mind too
Earlier exposures seemed less important. Heart failure and ischemic heart disease both enhanced the dementia risk and stroke explained almost 50% of air pollution-related dementia cases.

Air pollution is an established risk factor for cardiovascular health and because CVD accelerates cognitive decline.

“We believe exposure to air pollution might negatively affect cognition indirectly,” said Grande.

“In the study, virtually all of the association of air pollution with dementia seemed to be through the presence or the development of CVD, adding more reason to reduce emissions and optimize treatment of concurrent CVD and related risk factors, particularly for people living in the most polluted areas of our cities,” she added.

Also, listen:

Here’s the solution
There are various doable things that you can do to curb air pollution. Like carpool, using more public transport, timely servicing of your vehicle, opting a bicycle instead of a bike if you want to go nearby, opting for environment-friendly fuel options, etc. 

So, protect nature until it’s too late. 

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