More strokes occur during geomagnetic storms

According to a new study, more people are likely to suffer strokes on days when there's a geomagnetic storm—when solar winds or coronal mass ejections disturb the Earth’s magnetic field and throw out powerful magnetic forces from the sun.

Scientists from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand analyzed data from six large stroke studies that were conducted between 1981 and 2004. Collectively, the studies involved  more than 11,000 people from Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The scientists searched for correlation between incidence of stroke and geomagnetic activity data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The findings, published in the journal Stroke, found that strokes were 19 percent more likely to occur on days when there were geomagnetic storms than on other days. Researchers called the increased stroke risk a “fairly significant increase”, but not as large as the risk increase due to other known risk factors such as smoking or high blood pressure.

Researchers said that one explanation for their findings could be that geomagnetic storms contribute to raised blood pressure and changes in heart rhythm, which are known risk factors for stroke. However, because reasons for the correlation remain largely unknown, researchers said that people should focus on avoiding known risk factors—such as stress, excessive alcohol and dehydration—rather than trying to change behavior based on storms.

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Sourced from: Reuters, Geomagnetic storms may influence risk of stroke