The harmful effects of air pollution are a generally accepted fact by much of the population.

However, researchers have made a slightly alarming discovery – even short-term exposure to air pollution may be enough to trigger a heart attack or stroke in at-risk patients.

According to this study, up to a week of exposure to most types of pollution may be enough to trigger a heart attack. The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

After 24 hours of exposure to moderate air pollution, the risk of stroke rose 34%. The risk was highest within 12 to 14 hours of exposure to pollution and showed the greatest increase during exposure to pollution generated by traffic.

What we can say is that exposure to a high level of pollution is harmful to people at risk,” – Dr. Hazrije Mustafic, lead author for this study.

People at risk for heart attack and stroke are advised to avoid areas of heavy traffic, highways and other areas which may have higher levels of pollution.