2 Major Health Consequences of Residing Near Highways


2 Major Health Consequences of Residing Near HighwaysAn estimated 35 million Americans live within 984 feet of major roads, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Being close to prominent highways might make your daily commute to work shorter and easier, but two recent research endeavors found that it also raises women’s heart disease risks.

One study associated living by main roads with increased sudden cardiac death chances. Another linked residents’ proximities to highways with elevating hypertension even more. Canadian pharmaciesfill prescriptions for heart conditions, high blood pressure, and numerous other illnesses. Learn the many advantages of buying the best Canadian drugs online.

1. Sudden Cardiac Death

Researchers reviewed data on over 107,130 mostly white middle-aged to elderly women averaging 60 years old. These middle- to upper-class subjects participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1986 and 2012. Living near major roads increased their risks of sudden cardiac deaths to match those of smoking, poor diet habits, and obesity.

The investigators calculated residential distances to bustling thoroughfares and made adjustments for many other factors like age, race, smoking status, physical activity levels, diet, and calendar time. With 523 sudden cardiac death cases, participants whose homes were 164 feet away from busy roadways had a 38-percent greater likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest and imminent death than women who lived 10 times further away. This risk rose by 6 percent per each 328 feet that women lived closer to highly traveled roads. Among the 1159 coronary heart disease fatalities, risk rose by 24 percent.

While previous research detected a moderately increased chance of coronary heart disease for people living by primary roadways, this new study might be the first one to investigate how proximity impacts sudden cardiac death odds. The researchers noted that highway proximity may be an indicator for unhealthy air pollution exposure that corresponds to the top sudden cardiac death risk factors.

Lead study author Dr. Jaime Hart, Sc.D., from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, notes that physicians may be overlooking environmental exposures as heart disease risk factors. The next step involves determining which specific aspects like air pollution are responsible for the heart disease/highway proximity link.

2. Hypertension

Another research team studied 5,400 postmenopausal Women’s Health Initiative participants living between 300 feet and over half a mile from principal California roadways. Those whose homes were 328 feet from highways with excess air pollution had a 22-percent higher likelihood of developing hypertension than women who resided a minimum of 0.3 miles, or 3280 feet, away from highly trafficked roads. This risk increased the closer subjects were to expressways.

Hypertension is a real issueThe investigators took factors such as age, ethnicity, smoking status, cholesterol levels, diabetic diagnoses, weight and height, physical activity levels, local food qualities, education, and income into account. Study author Gregory Wellenius, assistant epidemiology professor at Brown University’s School of Public Health, reports that about 80 percent of Americans are city dwellers today. So being aware of the health ramifications of urban environments is essential for residents, city planners, and public health officials.

Other studies have associated chronic noise and traffic-induced air pollution with high blood pressure. This one shows that Americans should be concerned about how their surrounding environments and living in urban developments near well-occupied highways and public transportation systems can impair their health. Wellenius asserts that community planners need to reconsider potential health hazards before locating residential developments close to major roadways.

Experts Comment

Researchers tend to blame fine particles floating in the air near highways for comprising heart health. Noise, bright lights, and congestion also are main concerns about residing close to well-traveled thoroughfares, per Kurt Kielisch, the Forensic Group’s president and senior appraiser.

In spite of research showing that traffic exposure presents multiple public health threats, real estate authorities report that homebuyers aren’t avoiding houses near jam-packed roadways. The majority of house hunters never voice pollution concerns when they’re looking for new residences, according to realtor Rochelle Fitzgerald. Typically, those requesting homes near highways are career-driven people seeking the fastest routes to their workplaces.

People who are used to loud city living show the least concern about choosing residences near expressways. Some who grew up near highways prefer locations where the familiar hum of traffic lulls them to sleep. Or people moving from big cities to smaller town don’t consider high-traffic areas to be problematic.

American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Russell Luepker, M.D., from the University of Minnesota notes the importance of the growing body of evidence that living by high-traffic roadways poses multiple health dangers. He contends that the consequences outweigh the convenience advantages. Because housing developments are on the rise, Hart encourages community planners to advise developers about the increasing physical and mental health concerns of living in close proximity to crowded highways.

How to Lower Your Risks

If you don’t want to move away from loud, congested, polluted highways, adopting healthy habits can help. University of California cardiology professor Dr. Gregg Fonarow notes that hypertension is a key yet controllable risk factor of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and fatal heart disease. Luepker recommends making your family’s health your first priority. No matter where your home is located, he and Hart advise heart-healthy practices like a nutritious diet, sustaining optimal weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and reducing stress to help lower your heart and blood vessel disease odds.