Neighborhoods with more green spaces are less likely to develop heart disease

A study of the University of Louisville (USA) published in the open access journal Journal of the American Heart Association It reveals that people living surrounded by green and leafy spaces have one lower risk of developing heart disease.

In this study, the first of its kind, researchers at the University of Louisville addressed the impact of green neighborhoods in individual stress and cardiovascular risk markers.

For five years, blood and urine was collected from 408 people of various ages with an average of 51 years, with different ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels. The subjects of the experiment, that he suffered most overweight and high cholesterol or blood pressure levels, they were contacted through the clinic of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Louisville and had a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

The density of green spaces in the vicinity of the homes of the participants was measured using the NDVI (normalized Diffrerence Vegetation Index), a tool that indicates levels of vegetation through a series of images collected by a NASA satellite. Air pollution levels were measured using material from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The researchers found that areas with more vegetation associated with:

  • Lower levels of the hormone epinephrine-urine, indicating low levels of stress.
  • Lower levels of F2-Isoprostano, a marker indicating a lower level of oxidative stress, and therefore better health.
  • Greater capacity for repair of blood vessels.

They also discovered that these associations with epinephrine were greater in women and in people who had not previously had heart attacks.

“Our study shows that live in a neighborhood with high density of trees, shrubs and other vegetation types can be good for the health of the heart and blood vessels"says Aruni Bhatnagar, Director of the study, Professor of medicine, “De facto, increase the amount of vegetation in the neighborhoods can be assumed an environmental influence not recognized in cardiovascular health and assume a significant intervention in public health”.

These conclusions have been extracted regardless of age, the ethnic group, smoking status, the socio-economic level of the neighborhood, use of suitable for cardiovascular Pharmacology and exposure to traffic.

Previous studies suggested that neighborhoods with more green spaces were associated with positive effects both physical and psycho-social level, on the welfare, as well as in the reduction of rates of death due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, improve stroke survival rates. However, These investigations were highly limited by reliance on questionnaires that experimental subjects were filling and other kind of not so reliable methodology as used on this occasion.

Since Iberflora We want to show our full support to any initiative that promotes green spaces in communal areas, and we want to encourage the public administration to take conscience of the conclusions drawn from these studies to implement new measures in this regard. No doubt, measures that are beneficial for all: for the Green Sector, for the health of people and at the ecosystem level.