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More Green Space May Mean A Healthier Heart

“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,” said study author Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the University of Louisville’s Diabetes and Obesity Center. For the study, Bhatnagar and his colleagues looked at the effect of neighborhood green space over five years among people who were seen at the University of Louisville’s outpatient cardiology clinic. They also measured the density of the green space and levels of air pollution where the participants lived. Bhatnagar’s team found that in neighborhoods with more vegetation, people had lower levels of epinephrine in their urine, which indicates lower levels of stress. The association with epinephrine was greater among women, people who had not previously had a heart attack, and those not taking beta blockers, which are drugs that reduce blood pressure and the heart’s workload. The findings were independent of age, sex, ethnicity, smoking habits, economic conditions, use of statins and exposure to roads, the researchers said. The study did not prove that greenery caused heart risks to drop; it only observed an association. The report was published online Dec. 5 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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