Many factors can increase your chances of dying from a heart attack or stroke. While some of these risks are unavoidable, others can be mitigated by making simple changes to your lifestyle. One risk factor that is often overlooked is our environment.
A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE recently published results on the environmental impact on health. Personal and environmental health data were collected from 50,045 poor rural villagers living in the northeast region of Golestan in Iran. All participants had annual visits with researchers dating back to 2004. All were over 40 at the start of the study.
The study showed that exposure to above-average levels of outdoor air pollution increased the risk of death by 20% and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 17%. It specifically found that one-third of study participants who lived within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of a major road had a 13% increased risk of death.
Using kerosene or wood-burning stoves (poorly ventilated by a chimney) to cook food or heat the house also increased the overall risk of death by 23% and 9%. The researchers also found that it increased the risk of cardiovascular death by 36% and 19%. Living away from specialized medical clinics and busy roads also increased the risk of death.
It is one of the first studies of its kind to identify environmental factors that pose a risk to the heart and overall health. It also adds much-needed scientific evidence from people living in low- and middle-income countries. Past research has primarily favored urban populations in high-income countries with much greater access to modern healthcare services.
“Our study highlights the role that the key environmental factors of indoor/outdoor air pollution, access to modern health services and proximity to noisy and polluted roads play in all causes of death and death. from cardiovascular disease in particular,” said study lead author and cardiologist Rajesh Vedanthan, MD, MPH.
Previous studies have shown that environmental factors such as air pollution can affect the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. However, this new study adds to the dangers by examining the relationship between the environment and the risk of death from heart attack and stroke.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence on how the environment can affect cardiovascular health. However, whether you live near a polluted area or not, it is important to take care of your general health.
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