If you’re sitting inside your home and can hear horns honking or cars whizzing by, chances are your risk for dying has shot way up. And I’m not talking about being hit by one of those cars, either.
A new study is showing that women who live near major roads have an increased risk for sudden cardiac death. In fact, the lead researcher said that living close to a major road is as much a risk factor in sudden cardiac deaths as smoking, obesity, and poor eating habits.
How did they come to this surprising conclusion? Well, the research team looked at data from more than 107,000 American women who took part in a major study from 1986 to 2012. The average age of the participants was 60 years old.
Over this 26-year period, 523 participants died from a sudden cardiac death. Results showed that the closer the women lived to major roads, the greater their risk of death. More specifically, women who were within 164 feet of a major road were 38% more likely to die from sudden cardiac death than those who lived 0.3 miles from one. Each time a woman lived 328 feet closer than 0.3 miles to a major road, their risk of death increased by six percent.
Pretty shocking stuff, huh?
Now, in the paper, the researchers don’t prove cause and effect, but they do show an association between proximity to busy streets and this type of death. However, another study published earlier in the month adds some weight to these findings, as it showed an association between post-menopausal women who live close to major highways and a greater risk for high blood pressure.
The doctors mention exposure to pollution as a potential reason for the association, but I think it might be more than that. I’d say stresses like noise pollution and having to regularly navigate through busy streets—either by car or by foot—could also contribute to this increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiac stress.
So what can you do to protect yourself? The only things you can really do are to move—which isn’t always feasible—or to practice a heart-healthy lifestyle. By doing things like eating right, getting adequate exercise (especially cardio), and maintaining a healthy weight, you can make your heart more resilient to external factors that may otherwise threaten your life. So if you live in a busy city, get moving and practice a healthy diet today to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Hart, J.E., et al., “Exposure to Traffic Increases the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death,” Circulation 2012; 126: A15030.
Healthday, “Living Near a Highway May Be Bad for Your Blood Pressure,” MedlinePlus web site, October 1, 2014; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_148673.html.
Preidt, R., “Sudden Cardiac Death A Risk for Women Living Near Major Roads: Study,” MedlinePlus web site, October 13, 2014; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_148880.html.