Neighbourhoods flanked with greenery promote a healthy heart, suggests study
Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 5 : According to a recent study, people who live in leafy, green neighbourhoods are at a lower risk of developing heart diseases and strokes.
As part of the study, which was published in Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers investigated the impact of neighbourhoods with green spaces on individual-level markers of stress and cardiovascular disease risk. Over five years, blood and urine samples were collected from 408 people of varying ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels, and then assessed for biomarkers of blood vessel injury and the risk of having cardiovascular disease.
The risk was calculated using biomarkers measured from blood and urine samples. The participants were recruited from the University of Louisville's outpatient cardiology clinic and were largely at elevated risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.
The density of the green spaces near the participants' residences was measured using the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a tool that indicates levels of vegetation density created from satellite imagery collected by NASA and USGS. Air pollution levels were also assessed using particulate matter from the EPA and roadway exposure measurements.
Researchers found that living in areas with more green vegetation was associated with:
* Lower urinary levels of epinephrine, indicating lower levels of stress
* Lower urinary levels of F2-isoprostane, indicating better health (less oxidative stress)
* Higher capacity to repair blood vessels
The researchers also found that associations with epinephrine were stronger among women, study participants not taking beta-blockers -- which reduce the heart's workload and lower blood pressure -- and people who had not previously had a heart attack.
Our study shows that living in a neighbourhood dense with trees, bushes and other green vegetation may be good for the health of your heart and blood vessels, said Aruni Bhatnagar, lead author of the study.
Indeed, increasing the amount of vegetation in a neighbourhood may be an unrecognised environmental influence on cardiovascular health and a potentially significant public health intervention, Bhatnagar added.
The findings were independent of age, sex, ethnicity, smoking status, neighbourhood deprivation, use of statin medications and roadway exposure.
Previous studies have also suggested that neighbourhood green spaces are associated with positive effects on overall physical and psychosocial health and well-being, as well as reduced rates of death from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and improved rates of stroke survival, according to Bhatnagar.