Where you live and how you cook can greatly increase your risk of death

Recent studies have shown that environmental variables such as air pollution, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking predict how likely people are to die.

Environmental variables influence mortality risk

Environmental variables such as air pollution, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking predict people’s risk of dying, particularly from heart attack and stroke, a new study has found.

A study by experts from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the New York University Grossman School of Medicine found that higher-than-average levels of air pollution increase the risk of death by 20% and increase the risk of death. 17% of cardiovascular diseases.

Cooking in an inadequately ventilated wood or kerosene stove increases the risk of total death (by 23% and 9%, respectively) and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (by 36% and 19%, respectively). Living close to busy roads and away from specialized medical clinics also increases the likelihood of death.

The results were recently published in a journal PLOS ONE, They are based on personal and environmental health data collected from 50,045 rural villagers living in the Gulistan region of northeastern Iran. All study participants were over 40 years of age and had consented to annual health check-ups with the researchers starting in 2004.

The researchers say their latest research provides the necessary scientific evidence from people in low- and middle-income countries, as well as the environmental factors most harmful to heart and overall health. The researchers note that traditional studies of environmental risk factors have favored urban populations in high-income countries because they have easier access to modern medical facilities.

Compared to those with easier access to specialized medical services, those who lived farther from clinics with catheterization labs, such as those able to open blocked arteries, had a 1% increased risk of death for every 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of distance. Most people in Gulestan live 80 kilometers away from such modern facilities.

The study results also showed that the one-third of study participants who lived within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of a major road had a 13% increased risk of death.

“Our study highlights the role that major environmental factors such as indoor/outdoor air pollution, access to modern health services, and proximity to noisy, polluted roads play in all-cause mortality and morbidity, especially from cardiovascular disease,” said cardiologist Rajesh, senior author of the study. Vedanthan, MD, MPH.

“Our findings help expand disease risk profiling beyond age and traditional individual risk factors,” said Vedanthan, associate professor of population health at NYU Langone Health’s Department of Medicine.

“These findings present a new opportunity for health policymakers to reduce the burden of disease in their communities by reducing the impact of environmental risk factors, such as air pollution, on cardiovascular health,” said study author Michael Hadley, MD, associate professor of cardiology and cardiovascular disease. Professor of Risk Medicine at Mount Sinai.

In contrast, the study found that other environmental factors included in the analysis — low neighborhood income, increased population density, and excessive nighttime light exposure — were not independent predictors of mortality risk, as previous research had suggested otherwise in mostly urban settings.

For their investigation, researchers analyzed data collected up to December 2018. They then built a predictive model for overall mortality risk and cardiovascular mortality risk.

The research team plans to continue their analysis and hope to apply the predictive model to other countries. They say their new tool could provide a guide for evaluating the effectiveness of environmental, lifestyle and personal health changes in reducing mortality worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization, a quarter of all deaths worldwide are now linked to environmental factors, including air and water quality, lack of sanitation and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Reference: “Community Environmental Factors Affecting Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality: Results from the SPACE Study” by Michael B. Hadley, Mahdi Nalini, Samrachana Adhikari, Jackie Shimonifka, Arash Etemadi, Farin Kamangar, Masood Hoshnia, Tyler McChein, Akram Pourshams, Hossein Pustchi, Sadaf G. Sepanlow, Christian Abnet, Neil D. Friedman, Paolo Boffetta, Reza Malekzadeh, and Rajesh Vedanthan, 24 June 2022. PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269650

Research funding was provided by US National Institutes of Health grant R21HL140474.

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