Evidences have shown that the stroke risk associated with long-term exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of ≤2.5 μm (PM 2.5) varies among people in North America, Europe and Asia, but studies in Asia rarely evaluated the association by stroke type. We examined whether long-term exposure to PM 2.5 is associated with developing all strokes, ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
The retrospective cohort study consisted of 1,362,284 adults identified from beneficiaries of a universal health insurance program in 2011. We obtained data on air pollutants and meteorological measurements from air quality monitoring stations across Taiwan in 2010–2015. Annual mean levels of all environmental measurements in residing areas were calculated and assigned to cohort members. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of developing stroke associated with 1-year mean levels of PM 2.5 at baseline in 2010, and yearly mean levels from 2010 to 2015 as the time-varying exposure, adjusting for age, sex, income and urbanization level.
During a median follow-up time of 6.0 years, 12,942 persons developed strokes, 9919 (76.6%) were ischemic. The adjusted HRs (95% CIs) per interquartile range increase in baseline 1-year mean PM 2.5 were 1.03 (1.00–1.06) for all stroke, 1.06 (1.02–1.09) for ischemic stroke, and 0.95 (0.89–1.10) for hemorrhagic stroke. The concentration-response curves estimated in the models with and without additional adjustments for other environmental measurements showed a positively linear association between baseline 1-year mean PM 2.5 and ischemic stroke at concentrations greater than 30 μg/m 3, under which no evidence of association was observed. There was an indication of an inverse association between PM 2.5 and hemorrhagic stroke, but the association no longer existed after controlling for nitrogen dioxide or ozone. We found similar shape of the concentration-response association in the Cox regression models with time-varying PM 2.5 exposures.
Long-term exposure to PM 2.5 might be associated with increased risk of developing ischemic stroke. The association with high PM 2.5 concentrations remained significant after adjustment for other environmental factors.