More trees, fewer heart risks?

Research we're watching

Living in a leafy, green neighborhood may lead to lower levels of some telltale markers for heart disease and stroke, new research suggests.

During the five-year study, researchers collected blood and urine samples from 408 people recruited from a cardiology clinic in Louisville, Ky. The researchers also estimated green space exposure using satellite imagery that showed the vegetation density in each of the participants' neighborhoods.

People who lived in greener surroundings had lower urinary levels of epinephrine (indicating lower levels of stress) and F2-isoprostane, a marker of cell-damaging oxidation (indicating better health). They also had evidence of having a higher capacity to repair blood vessels when compared with people who lived in areas with less vegetation nearby (mainly business districts, industrial areas, and transportation zones).

The findings, published online Dec. 5, 2018, by the Journal of the American Heart Association, add to earlier research showing health benefits from living near green spaces.

Image: © tomwald/Getty Images

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