Living near highway raises death risk for heart attack survivors

Living near a major roadway in the U.S. raises the risk of death from all causes for heart attack survivors, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Researchers studied 3,547 heart attack survivors averaging age 62 and compared their risk of dying over 10 years if they lived shorter distances from interstate highways and state roads than if they lived at least 3,280 feet away.

The increased risk was:
27 percent for those living 328 feet away.
19 percent for those living 328-653 feet away.
13 percent for those living 653-3,277 feet away.

“We think there is exposure to a combination of air pollution near those roadways and other exposure, such as excessive noise or stress from living close to the roadway that may contribute to the study findings,” Dr. Murray Mittleman, the study author and director of the Cardiovascular Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass., said in a written statement.

In May 2010,  the American Heart Association said in a scientific statement that the evidence linking air pollution to heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths had “substantially strengthened.” The organization warned people, especially those at cardiovascular risk, to limit their exposure.

Mittleman advised keeping the research findings in mind in community planning, but said people can cut their individual risk of living near a roadway by quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise and keeping their blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
 

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