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Green neighborhoods could lead to fewer cases of heart disease

By Tauren Dyson
Green neighborhoods could lead to fewer cases of heart disease
Exposure to "greenness" or green spaces has been linked to a variety of mental, emotional and health benefits. Now, a new study suggests exposure to green space is linked with improved learning among young children. Photo by Katya Shut/Shutterstock

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Living in a neighborhood rich with greenspaces could push down the risk of developing heart disease and stroke, a new study says.

A new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that people who live closer to vegetation have an overall better quality of health, regardless of age, sex, ethnicity and smoking status.

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"Our study shows that living in a neighborhood dense with trees, bushes and other green vegetation may be good for the health of your heart and blood vessels," Aruni Bhatnagar, study lead author and professor of medicine and director of the University of Louisville Diabetes and Obesity Center, said in a press release

Researchers from the University of Louisville examined the blood and urine samples to look for blood vessel injury biomarkers and cardiovascular disease risk of more than 400 participants recruited from the University of Louisville's outpatient cardiology clinic.

Then, they gathered vegetation density data from the communities where the participants lived using data collected by NASA and USGS, and compared it to their sample results.

Specifically, the people who lived closer to the dense vegetation areas had lower urinary levels of epinephrine, indicating lower stress levels, lower urinary levels of F2-isoprostane. This translates to better health,based on less oxidative stress and higher capacity to repair blood vessels.

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"Indeed, increasing the amount of vegetation in a neighborhood may be an unrecognized environmental influence on cardiovascular health and a potentially significant public health intervention," Bhatnagar said.

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