More Green Spaces Boost Air Quality, Decrease Heart Disease Deaths

by Iswarya on Nov 9 2020 5:14 PM

More Green Spaces Boost Air Quality, Decrease Heart Disease Deaths
Green spaces can improve air quality and may reduce heart disease deaths, reports a new study. The findings of the study are presented at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2020.
"We found that both increased air quality and greenness were tied to fewer deaths from heart disease," stated William Aitken, M.D., a cardiology fellow.

Greenness is a measure of vegetative presence (shrubs, grass, trees) often evaluated by NASA imaging of the Earth and other methods. Here, investigators used the Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI), which measures wavelengths of visible and near-infrared sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface through NASA satellite imagery. A higher index resembles more healthy vegetation.

In this cross-sectional research conducted using national air quality, greenness, heart disease, and census data from 2014-2015, experts measured greenness by county across the United States. They compared it to national disease death rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease. They also covered data from the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality measurements of particulate matter for every county and the Census Bureau's information on age, race, education, and revenue by county.

The study found:

  • For every 0.10 unit increase in greenness, heart diseases death reduced by 13 deaths per 100,000 adults. Greenness (NDVI) values ranged from 0.00 - 0.80.
  • For every microgram increase in particulate matter per cubic meter of air, death from heart disease was raised by approximately 39 deaths per 100,000 adults.

The researchers believe their results support clinical trials using built environment interventions to improve heart health.


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