Stroke: temporal trends and association with atmospheric variables and air pollutants in Northern Spain

Autores: Ana Santurtún | Patricia Bolivar Ruiz | Laura López-Delgado | Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo | Javier Riancho | María T. Zarrabeitia

Abstract: Stroke, the second cause of death and the most frequent cause of severe disability among adults in developed countries, is related to a large variety of risk factors. This paper assesses the temporal patterns in stroke episodes in a city in Northern Spain during a 12-year period and analyzes the possible effects that atmospheric pollutants and meteorological variables may have on stroke on a daily scale. Our results show that there is an increase in stroke admissions (r = 0.818, p = 0.001) especially in patients over 85 years old. On a weekly scale, the number of hospital admissions due to stroke remains stable from Monday to Friday, whereas it abruptly decreases during the weekends, reaching its minimum values on Sunday (p < 0.005); however, mortality in patients admitted to the hospital is higher on Sundays than on other days of the week. Finally, a statistically significant positive correlation between the number of stroke hospital admissions and NO2 levels (p = 0.012) and an inverse correlation with relative humidity (p = 0.032) were found. The analysis of the relationship between ischemic strokes and atmospheric circulation shows a higher frequency of the former in Santander with enhanced negative air pressure anomalies over western Spain; the fact that under these conditions the region studied registers very low values of relative humidity is in line with the aforementioned inverse correlation, which has not been described elsewhere in the literature. This study could be a first step for implementing stroke alert protocols depending on air pollution levels and circulation patterns forecasts.