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Study: Tri-State Area Air Quality Could Raise Risk Of Stroke

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Every breath you take in the Tri-State Area could increase your chances of stroke.

A new study from NYU Langone Medical Center says those already at high risk need to be careful, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

Exhaust from cars on city streets is one type of air pollution that could mean big health problems for those at risk for stroke.

Dr. Jonathan Newman of NYU Langone, the study's leading author, said it looked at more than 300,000 people from across the region.

"In this case, we found that it narrowed or it led to a significant narrowing in the arteries of your neck," he said.

"It had a very wide variation in air pollution exposure and a large population," Newman added.

While the narrowing of the arteries in the neck is just one risk factor for stroke, the study found that air pollution did increase that factor.

"One unit increase in air pollution, your risk of narrowing in that artery went up about 9 percent," Newman said.

People around the city said they're not surprised to hear about the correlation.

"I do believe it," said Shavonn Monzac, of New Jersey. "That's why my parents are not here. The air quality is horrible, especially in New York."

Bob Palevitz, 77, of Manhattan, said he's not concerned.

"There's nothing I can do about it," he said. "So why worry about it?"

Though it's hard to change our environment, Newman said those at risk for stroke should pay attention.

"it's an important factor for people to think about, especially if you have a history of heart disease or a history of stroke," he said. "But the big things to control first are the known risk factors that are under your control."

Those factors include high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol.

Newman said those already at high risk for stroke should consider staying indoors when air pollutions levels are high.

He also said he hopes the study encourages more clean-air-quality enforcement around the country.

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