Go Green for Heart Health

park bench among trees, grass, and lakeA study released earlier this month suggests that surrounding yourself with greenery may protect your heart.

For years, experts have recommended you keep plants in your home, since they purify the inside air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Now, this study by Aruni Bhatnagar, at University of Louisville, shows that living in neighborhoods with a lot of trees and shrubs may be good for your heart!

About the Study

The researchers set out to understand how different forms of environment affect risk of cardiovascular disease. They profiled 408 people in Louisville, KY who either already had, or were at high risk of, heart disease. After recording the impact of stress on each participant’s body using many different measures, they recorded the amount of green space within half a mile of the participants’ homes.

The people who lived close to green spaces had lower levels of stress hormones, and higher levels of blood cells that help stabilize the vascular system.

“Individuals living in greener areas are likely to have better wound-healing response, and higher capacity to repair blood vessels,” said the researchers.

Women had a stronger response to greenery, but the overall results were the same regardless of age groups, races, socioeconomic levels, and cigarette use.

Why does greenery have this effect? It’s not clear. But it does seem to be less related to the actual plants, and more related to the relaxing and inviting atmosphere it creates. Having green spaces so close to home encourages you to exercise, socialize, and move around more. These are all ways to improve heart health.

About Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease, despite the many advances in treatment and management, remains the biggest killer in America. Studies project that in 10 years, 40.5 percent of the population will have some form of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases that affect the heart or any blood vessels.

These include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Athersclerosis

While genetics do play a role in these disease, the main risk factors seem to be more related to environment and lifestyle. For example, a study suggested that making good lifestyle choices—eating well, exercising often, sleeping well—could prevent up to 82 percent of coronary events.

Here at Bridgeway Senior Living, we encourage our residents, staff, and visitors to learn about heart disease and how we can prevent it.

And don’t forget, we give you a head start by providing a beautifully green neighborhood right outside our front door!