Short-term exposure to air pollution and incidence of stroke and acute myocardial infarction in a Japanese population

Neuroepidemiology. 2012;38(2):84-92. doi: 10.1159/000335654. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Background: Exposure to high levels of air pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular events. However, there is no clear information in Japan on the effect of pollution on the incidence of stroke and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Therefore, we investigated the effects of air pollution on the incidence of stroke and AMI in a setting where pollutant levels are rather low.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Takashima Stroke and AMI Registry, which covers a population of approximately 55,000 in Takashima County in central Japan. We applied a time-stratified, bidirectional, case-crossover design to estimate the effects of air pollutants, which included suspended particulate matter (SPM), sulfur dioxide (SO(2)), nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) and photochemical oxidants (Ox). We used the distributed lag model to estimate the effect of pollutant exposure 0-3 days before the day of event onset and controlled for meteorological covariates in all of the models.

Results: There were 2,038 first-ever strokes (1,083 men, 955 women) and 429 first-ever AMI cases (281 men, 148 women) during 1988-2004. The mean pollutant levels were as follows: SPM 26.9 μg/m(3); SO(2) 3.9 ppb; NO(2) 16.0 ppb, and Ox 28.4 ppb. In single-pollutant and two-pollutant models, SO(2) was associated with the risk of cerebral hemorrhage. Other stroke subtypes and AMI were not associated with air pollutant levels.

Conclusions: We observed an association between SO(2) and hemorrhagic stroke; however, we found inconclusive evidence for a short-term effect of air pollution on the incidence of other stroke types and AMI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide*
  • Oxidants, Photochemical
  • Particulate Matter
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Sulfur Dioxide


  • Oxidants, Photochemical
  • Particulate Matter
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide