Living in a greener neighborhood reduces heart disease risk, study says

You may be able to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by moving to a greener area, a new study suggests.

Over a five-year study period, researchers in Miami found that people living in greener neighborhoods had a 16 percent lower risk of developing CVD than people living in areas with little green space.

In addition, planting more vegetation in a site was associated with a reduction in CVD risk over time.

The experts believe that ‘greenness’ not only promotes breathing cleaner air, but also makes people less stressed and thus less prone to cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.9 million lives per year.

Reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease by moving to a greener area, new study from University of Miami researchers suggests

“Higher levels of greenness were associated with lower heart disease and stroke rates over time, both when an area maintained high greenness and when greenness increased,” said study author Dr. William Aitken of the University of Miami.

“It was remarkable that these relationships developed in just five years, a relatively short time for a positive environmental impact.”

HEART AND vascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for diseases of the heart or blood vessels.

It is usually associated with a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots.

It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

CVD is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK, but it can often be largely prevented by living a healthy lifestyle.

All heart disease is heart disease, but not all heart disease is heart disease.

dr. Aitken stressed the importance of local authorities planting trees and shrubs to improve health.

“Planting trees and making neighborhoods greener comes with multiple benefits and offers a relatively inexpensive investment to improve health and well-being in many circumstances,” he said.

“For the cost of one emergency room visit for a heart attack, trees can be planted in a neighborhood of 100 residents and ten heart diseases in this group can be prevented.”

For the study, the authors looked at data from 243,558 U.S. Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older who lived in the same area of ​​Miami between 2011 and 2016.

Medicare records were used to obtain the incidence of new CVD conditions during the five-year study period, including heart attack, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, and stroke/transient ischemic attack.

To assess the ‘greenness’ of an area, satellite imagery was used to assess the amount of visible and invisible near-infrared sunlight reflected off the Earth’s surface.

Chlorophyll from plants typically absorbs visible light and reflects near-infrared light, so measuring both indicates the amount of vegetation.

The greenness of city blocks was then classified as low, medium or high. Participants were categorized based on whether they lived in these low, medium, or high greenness blocks at the start of the study period in 2011.

The process repeated itself for those same residents and the greenness of their blocks in 2016.

During that time, Miami-Dade County Parks conducted tree planting programs to increase the amount of local greenery.

That meant that the possibility existed that someone in a ‘low green block’ in 2011 could live in a ‘high green block’ in 2016.

The researchers analyzed the probability of developing new CVDs and the number of new CVD conditions, based on block-level greenness.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for diseases of the heart or blood vessels.  CVD events include heart disease and stroke.  All heart disease is heart disease, but not all heart disease is heart disease (stock image)

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for diseases of the heart or blood vessels. CVD events include heart disease and stroke. All heart disease is heart disease, but not all heart disease is heart disease (stock image)

The analyzes were adjusted for other factors that could increase the risk of CVD, such as age, gender, ethnicity, income and how much ‘walkability’ their environment had. Being able to walk more is of course good for cardiovascular health.

The researchers first compared heart health between those who continuously lived in areas with lots of greenery or little greenery during the five-year study.

Residents of high-greenness blocks during the study had a 16 percent lower chance of developing new cardiovascular disease compared to those living in low-greenness blocks.

Of the participants who developed CVD disease during follow-up, those in high-greenness areas developed 4 percent fewer new diseases compared to those in low-greenness blocks.

The researchers then compared heart health in participants whose neighborhoods became greener versus those who continued to live in areas of low vegetation.

Pictured, Primrose Hill Park in North London at sunrise.  The experts think that 'green' not only promotes breathing cleaner air, but makes people less stressed and therefore less prone to developing cardiovascular disease

Pictured, Primrose Hill Park in North London at sunrise. The experts think that ‘green’ not only promotes breathing cleaner air, but makes people less stressed and therefore less prone to developing cardiovascular disease

Compared to residents of areas with little greenery during the study, those who lived in areas that increased their greenness from low in 2011 to high in 2016 were 15 percent less likely to develop new CVD conditions.

Of the participants who developed CVD disease during follow-up, those whose neighborhoods became greener developed 9 percent fewer new CVD conditions compared to residents of places with persistently low levels of greenery over the five years.

“We suspect that multiple factors may explain these observations,” said Dr. Aitken.

‘For example, people who live in greener areas can exercise more outside and feel less stressed because they are surrounded by nature.

‘In addition, vegetation could provide some protection against air and/or noise pollution. This is an area for further exploration.’

The research will be presented this weekend at ESC Congress 2021.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for diseases of the heart or blood vessels.

It is usually associated with a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots.

It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

CVD is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK, but it can often be largely prevented by living a healthy lifestyle.

All heart disease is heart disease, but not all heart disease is heart disease.

CVD events include heart disease and stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, taking approximately 17.9 million lives each year.

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