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Air pollution and apartment living increase the risk of hypertension

A new study from Oxford University Press has linked exposure to air pollution, traffic noise, and living in apartment buildings with a higher risk of developing hypertension and some components of metabolic syndrome. The research also suggests that access to green spaces and natural environments can help mitigate these negative effects. 

Hypertension and metabolic syndrome are often precursors for cardiovascular disease, which is a leading cause of death worldwide. Metabolic syndrome is associated with abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated blood glucose. 

The causes of these conditions are complex and can be related to genetics, lifestyle, diet, or to environmental factors such as air pollution, noise pollution, and residential housing.

The researchers investigated the correlation between long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and residential distance to green spaces with the development of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. The study was focused on people living in private houses or multi-story houses in Kaunas City and the second largest city of Lithuania.

The study revealed that above-average air pollution levels coincided with a higher risk of reduced high density lipoprotein, while traffic-related exposure was associated with a greater risk of hypertension, higher triglyceride level, and reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The negative impact of traffic air pollutants, however, was only observed among the participants who lived in apartment buildings.

Because there is more traffic near the multi-family buildings, this lifestyle may be associated with the incidence of hypertension as well. 

The greenness and size of the available open public spaces were found to have the opposite effect on health compared to traffic noise and air pollution. 

“Our research results enable us to say that we should regulate as much as possible the living space for one person in multifamily houses, improve the noise insulation of apartments, and promote the development of green spaces in multifamily houses,” said study lead author Agn Brazien.

The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Creativa Images / Shutterstock

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