Association between ambient air pollution and daily hospital admissions for ischemic stroke: A nationwide time-series analysis

by Yaohua Tian, Hui Liu, Zuolin Zhao, Xiao Xiang, Man Li, Juan Juan, Jing Song, Yaying Cao, Xiaowen Wang, Libo Chen, Chen Wei, Yonghua Hu, Pei Gao


Evidence of the short-term effects of ambient air pollution on the risk of ischemic stroke in low- and middle-income countries is limited and inconsistent. We aimed to examine the associations between air pollution and daily hospital admissions for ischemic stroke in China.

Methods and findings

We identified hospital admissions for ischemic stroke in 2014–2016 from the national database covering up to 0.28 billion people who received Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) in China. We examined the associations between air pollution and daily ischemic stroke admission using a two-stage method. Poisson time-series regression models were firstly fitted to estimate the effects of air pollution in each city. Random-effects meta-analyses were then conducted to combine the estimates. Meta-regression models were applied to explore potential effect modifiers. More than 2 million hospital admissions for ischemic stroke were identified in 172 cities in China. In single-pollutant models, increases of 10 μg/m3 in particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3) and 1 mg/m3 in carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations were associated with 0.34% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.20%–0.48%), 1.37% (1.05%–1.70%), 1.82% (1.45%–2.19%), 0.01% (−0.14%–0.16%), and 3.24% (2.05%–4.43%) increases in hospital admissions for ischemic stroke on the same day, respectively. SO2 and NO2 associations remained significant in two-pollutant models, but not PM2.5 and CO associations. The effect estimates were greater in cities with lower air pollutant levels and higher air temperatures, as well as in elderly subgroups. The main limitation of the present study was the unavailability of data on individual exposure to ambient air pollution.


As the first national study in China to systematically examine the associations between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and ischemic stroke, our findings indicate that transient increase in air pollution levels may increase the risk of ischemic stroke, which may have significant public health implications for the reduction of ischemic stroke burden in China.

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