Living in a Good Neighborhood Can Improve Your Heart Health.
As far as your cardiovascular health is concerned, there is really no place like home. While some people may think that this is all in the mind, there is a great possibility that a good neighborhood can do wonders for your heart.
Some Useful Statistics
Heart disease affects people of all ages and backgrounds, and is now considered to be the leading cause of deaths in the US. According to the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 700,000 Americans suffer from heart attack while 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US each and every year. If you do the math, that’s basically one in every four deaths. ?
In addition, coronary heart disease alone costs the nation $108.9 billion in health care services, medications, and lost productivity per year.
Your Heart and Your Neighborhood: The Hidden Link
According to the results of a study conducted by a team of expert researchers in the University of Michigan, the positive attributes of a community can have a significant effect on the people living in the neighborhood. In fact, it can reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 70%.
For the study, the researchers monitored the cardiovascular health of more than 5,000 respondents who participated in University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research Health and Retirement Study. All of the participants were not more than 50 years old and do not have a history of any heart problems. Majority (62%) of the participants were married women.
The participants were then asked to rate their neighborhood using a seven-point scale. They were asked if their neighbors were friendly and trustworthy, and if they felt like a part of the neighborhood. They were also asked if they believe they have neighbors who would help them in times of difficulty.
Over the course of the four year study, 148 people died as a result of heart attack. When the researchers finally analyzed their data, they observed that each increase in neighborhood social cohesion corresponded with a 17% reduction in the risk of heart attack. This relationship remained constant even after adjusting for other factors such as age, gender, race, social integration and other health issues.
Based on the data collected, the researchers concluded that social cohesion or the perceived degree of connectedness between neighbors fosters a strong sense of trust and security, and significantly reduces the incidence of heart attacks in the community.