Department of Neurology

Environmental influences on neurological and other age-associated diseases

Head of Research Group: Dr. Florian Rakers, MD


Climate, pollution, and age-associated diseases
The climate is changing - and with it the environment and people´s living conditions. Evidence-based adaptation strategies to climate change and the resulting health consequences require a detailed understanding of the interaction between humans, disease and the environment. Against the background of demographic change and an aging population, age-associated diseases such as e.g. stroke, heart attack, Parkinson's disease and dementia become especially important.

Our Research Group investigates the effects of various environmental influences such as meteorological parameters, and climate and anthropogenic environmental as well as air pollution on the development of neurological and other age-associated diseases. We aim to identfy the risk groups affected by these changes to enable the development of targeted prevention measures for these groups. In addition, the results should also serve as a basis for evicence-based decions making by policy makers and health care regulators.

Research results

In our interdisciplinary environmental epidemiological study, we found evidence of an association between the acute risk of myocardial infarction and a rapid rise in the concentration of nitric oxide caused for instance by a high volume of traffic. This is of particular importance, since existing EU air pollution limits are based on absolute limits and do not take into account acute increases in the respective air pollution components, which are also found in 'clean' regions1.

For stroke and epilepsy, we previously identified weather conditions that increase the acute disease risk2,3. These results are important because extreme weather phenomena will continue to increase even if the EU's goal of limiting the average rise in temperature to less than two degrees Celsius is reached.


1) Rasche, Marius et al. "Rapid Increases in Nitrogen Oxides are Associated with Acute Myocardial Infarction" European journal of preventive cardiology, (2018) in press

2) Rakers, Florian, et al. "Rapid weather changes are associated with increased ischemic stroke risk" European journal of epidemiology 31.2 (2016): 137-146.

3) Rakers, Florian, et al. "Weather as a risk factor for epileptic seizures" Epilepsia 58.7 (2017): 1287-1295






Contact telephone numbers

Information and appointments

Tel. +49 03641 - 9 323 450

Inpatient admission (24h):

Tel. +49 03641 - 9 323 456

Neurologist on call (24h):

Tel. +49 03641 - 9 323 415

Stroke hotline:

Tel. +49 03641 - 9 323 457

Chairman and Director

Prof. Dr. med. Otto W. Witte

Secretary: Rita Kaie

+49 03641 - 9 323 401
+49 03641 - 9 323 402



Department of Neurology

Jena University Hospital

Erlanger Allee 101

07747 Jena