It comes in all shapes and sizes, health news, but here is a new one for you. Researchers at the University of Colorado and Harvard School of Global Health have found that people living at higher altitudes have a lower chance of dying from ischemic heart disease. And they tend to live longer than others.
I suppose if we could blend moving plans with health advice, I would suggest heading for higher ground. Researchers say that the answer may lie in an environment with lower oxygen levels, such as the Rocky Mountains. Low oxygen levels may turn on certain genes that influence your heart muscle and possibly produce new blood vessels for a better flow into the heart. Another idea could be that higher solar radiation helps the body better make vitamin D, a nutrient found to be very beneficial to the heart.
If anyone is keeping score, the five states at highest altitude are Colorado; New Mexico; Nevada; Utah; and Wyoming. A team of researchers analyzed death certificates from each county in the U.S. The top 20 counties for life expectancy were located in Colorado and Utah. Each county was approximately 5,967 feet above sea level. The men lived on average between 75.8 and 78.2 years, and the women between 80.5 to 82.5 years. Compared to those at lower altitudes, this is between one and three-and-a-half years longer.
While it was tough to pinpoint reasons, it seems that altitude could protect against heart disease and even cancer development. Interestingly, Colorado is the highest state and also the leanest, the fittest, and the one with the fewest deaths from heart disease and a lower incidence of colon and lung cancer.
Researchers think we should know more about the health effects of living at high altitudes. It isn’t all positive, as the research showed that altitudes above 4,900 feet were detrimental to those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Low oxygen levels are dangerous for those with impaired breathing of any kind.
But protection from heart disease? That could be an amazing finding and one that could help scientists develop new treatments.