Study Reveals One’s Nearby Living Environment Affects Blood Pressure
A study published in 2008 in the Journal Epidemiology has reported that the surrounding neighborhood which a person resides in has a marked effect on their hypertension (or high blood pressure) risk. And this is independent of their income and education levels.
The study was conducted by the University of Michigan School of Public Health and involved some 2,612 adults aged 45 to 85. The subjects were involved in a heart health study and resided in Forsyth County in North Carolina, Baltimore or New York City.
The study subjects were asked about the environment within a one mile distance from their homes, including factors such as: how easy it was to walk in the area; fruits and vegetables available in nearby markets; feeling of safety in the neighborhood; friendliness and helpfulness of neighbors.
It was found that those who lived in neighborhoods with the highest “walkability” had an approximate 25% lower risk of getting hypertension, as compared to those living in the least “walkable” ones. The effects of the other 3 factors mentioned above were roughly the same.
These factors are important because they made it easier for people to make better and healthier choices in their exercise and dietary habits, said Ana V Diez, one of the researchers. Further, she suggested that better living environments may reduce stress, thus also lowering risk of high blood pressure.
“Access to health care and health education are important, but so are policies that create environments conducive to making healthy choices and reducing stress,” she said.
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