Health Advice



Tiny bits of air pollution increase the risk of stroke-related death

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Evel Knievel once said, "I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair." It's hard to disagree on the virtue of fresh air.

This just in from a new study in Neurology: Particulate matter pollution, especially containing ultra-small micron-sized bits, is a risk factor for stroke-related death in people hospitalized for stroke.

That study looked at the dangers associated with exposure to the smallest particulate pollutants. They come from on- and off-road vehicle exhausts, burning wood, heating oil or coal and forest and grass fires. Indoor sources include tobacco smoke from cigarettes and particulate matter from vaping and water pipes, cooking, burning candles or oil lamps, and fireplaces. The researchers found that the smallest particulate matter invades the deepest parts of your lungs and gets into your bloodstream, where it creates inflammation and damages your cardiorespiratory system, upping your risk of dying from stroke.

How can you dodge the risks of fine particulate matter pollution?

-- Check for your area's air-quality reading.

-- When there are alerts, avoid strenuous outdoor exercise. Stay clear of busy roads where particulate matter is usually worse.

-- Install whole house HEPA filters on your heating/cooling system or use room HEPA air filters.


-- Wear an N95/KN95 face mask when outside on highly polluted days, especially if you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

-- Tell your representatives in Congress that we could prevent 53,000 premature deaths and provide more than $608 billion in benefits annually from avoided illness and death if fine particulate matter pollution was removed.


Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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