We know that environment can play a significant role in how healthy we are, but a new study suggests that it can specifically impact the risk of arterial hypertension and metabolic syndrome. The research, soon to be published in the Journal of Public Health, shows that air pollution and living in apartment buildings may be associated with an increased risk for health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
For the study, long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and distance of green spaces and major roads to residential housing were investigated. This was compared with the development of hypertension and some components of metabolic syndrome. The study was conducted among people living in private houses or multi-story housing in Kaunas City, the second largest city in Lithuania with a population of 280,000.
The results showed that air pollution levels above the median were associated with a higher risk of health problems. Specifically, traffic-related exposure was found to be associated with hypertension, reduced high-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and a high triglyceride level. A surprising outcome of the study showed that the negative impact of traffic air pollutants was observed only in the participants who lived in apartment buildings.
It is thought that since there tends to be more traffic near apartment buildings, this may be the cause of a higher risk of health problems. It is also hypothesized that in apartment-style living, its configurations, social interactions, and supportive relationships could have an impact on cardiovascular disease risk.
The Effects of Greenspace
The risk factors were shown to be inversely related to the green spaces around the living facilities. This included size and type of activities available in the open public spaces. Researchers have found positive effects of these natural environments and have emphasized the positive impact of green spaces on cardiovascular health.
The study’s lead author, Agn Brazien, spoke about the study, “Our research results enable us to say that we should regulate as much as possible the living space for one person in multifamily houses, improve the noise insulation of apartments, and promote the development of green spaces in multifamily houses.”
This type of study is crucial to our understanding of illness and disease and can help to pave the way for new methods of prevention and care. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in most developing countries, and this study helps to outline some of the causes.
Some of the most common causes of cardiovascular disease in North America are arterial hypertension and metabolic syndrome. These conditions are associated with a higher risk for various health problems, with metabolic syndrome being further associated with abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, and higher blood glucose levels.
The causes of these disorders are complex, but research like this helps to further show that it can be related to environmental factors, including traffic air pollution, traffic noise, residential housing, and neighborhood quality. Genetic factors, lifestyle, and diet are also known risk factors for these types of diseases.