Leafier communities, healthier hearts

Reported on Sciencedirect.com, a study by Xiaoqi Feng PhD, Michael A. Navakatikyan PhD, Renin Toms PhD and Thomas Astell-Burt PhD has found trees in urban areas to be good for cardio health. Below is a summary. See the full report here.


Green space reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, but few studies examine what types of green space matter, which is an important consideration as cities densify and apartments become more common.


Participants were 86,727 in houses and 17,998 in apartments from the 45 and Up Study (Sax Institute) baseline survey with 10 years of linked hospitalisation and death data used to define: (i) all-cause; and (ii) CVD-mortality; (iii) fatal and non-fatal CVD events; and (iv) acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Associations with total green space, tree canopy cover and open grass within 1.6 km buffers were assessed using survival analysis adjusted for potential confounders.


Mean percentage green space indicators were all higher among participants in houses than in apartments. Among residents of houses, a 10 per cent increase in total green space was associated with reduced risk of CVD mortality (HR 0.97, 95 per centCI 0.95–1.00). A 10 per cent increase in tree canopy cover was associated with reduced risks of all-cause mortality (HR 0.97, 95 per centCI 0.95–0.99), CVD mortality (HR 0.96, 95 per centCI 0.93–0.98), and fatal or non-fatal AMI (HR 0.93, 95%CI 0.89–0.96). In contrast, a 10% increase in open grass was associated with an increased risk of fatal or non-fatal AMI (HR 1.15, 95 per cent CI 1.09–1.20) in residents of houses. Among residents of apartments, a 10 per cent increase in total green space was associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR 1.04, 95 per cent CI 1.00–1.08) and CVD mortality (HR 1.03, 95 per cent CI 1.00–1.08).


Urban reforestation may be a population-level intervention to protect cardiovascular health, especially for people living in houses. The intersection of urban greening and cardiovascular health among residents of apartments warrants further investigation.

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