Residents of green areas have a lower risk of strokes

Scientists examined the risk of stroke in people who live in areas with varying degrees of greenery. They reported on the new data at a virtual conference of the American Stroke Association. The study's press release is posted on the American Heart Association website.

Residents of green areas have a lower risk of strokes 11572

The study authors examined data from almost 250 thousand elderly residents of the United States who use the Medicare health insurance system. Scientists compared information about the health of these people with satellite data on how green the areas in which they live are. Both trees and grass were taken into account.

In their calculations, the authors also took into account other risk factors that can lead to stroke: gender, age, income level, diabetes, hypertension, and others.

It turned out that compared to people who live in less green areas, residents of the greenest areas:

  • the risk of ischemic stroke is 26% lower;
  • the risk of transient ischemic attack (sometimes called a mini-stroke) is 20% lower.

This study found no connection between the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) and how green the area a person lives in.

According to William Aitken from the University of Miami, the effect of the degree of greening of an area on the risk of ischemic stroke can be compared to the effect of diabetes mellitus.

Living in a green area was previously shown to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction in these same Medicare beneficiaries.

“For most people, it is natural to take advantage of green spaces and walking paths. It’s easy to find a lot of people walking and running there,” Dr. Elizabeth Jackson from the University of Alabama commented on the new data.

Jackson added that without access to such spaces, people are less able to maintain physical activity, which is critical for preventing stroke.

Aitken does not rule out that residents of green areas may be easier to convince to lead a healthy lifestyle. Gardening could help reduce the risk of stroke in large numbers of people at once. In his opinion, cities should be forced to increase the number of green areas and encourage people to spend more time in such areas.”