People who feel safe from crime where they live are less likely to die prematurely or suffer a heart attack, according to new research.
The study showed that not worrying about crime was associated with a nine percent lower risk of premature death and a six percent lower likelihood of a heart attack.
Researchers looked at the association between neighborhood characteristics, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.
The study included more than 35,000 Chinese adults, aged 35 to 70, from 115 communities – 70 urban and 45 rural – in 12 provinces between 2005 and 2009. The average age of the participants was 51 and 60 percent were women.
Study author Dr. Mengya Li, of the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases in Beijing, said: “There is increasing evidence that the neighborhood we live in affects our health.
“This study highlights the importance of many aspects of our surroundings for heart health and longevity, including feeling safe, having shops, transport and parks close by, cleanliness, and feeling that our neighborhood is a good place to live and to raise children.”
The eight subjects covered included how long it takes to walk to shops, restaurants, banks, pharmacies, work, transport stops and parks; safety from crime including street lighting at night; crime rate and safety walking during the day and night and community satisfaction.
The researchers analyzed the associations between each subject and the total score and health outcomes after adjusting for factors that could influence the relationships, including age, sex, body mass index (BMI), education and household income.
During an average follow up of 11.7 years, there were 2,034 deaths among the participants, of which 765 were attributed to CVD, and 3,042 major CVD events.
A higher neighborhood environment score was associated with a six percent lower risk of the primary outcome of major CVD events and all-cause mortality, a 12 percent lower likelihood of death during the follow up period, and a 10 percent reduced risk of death due to CVD.
The subject with the greatest association with health outcomes was safety from crime.
Dr. Li said: “A higher neighborhood safety score was associated with a nine percent lower risk of death during follow up, 10 percent lower risk of death from CVD, three percent reduced likelihood of major CVDs, six percent reduced risk of myocardial infarction and 10 percent lower likelihood of heart failure.”
A high score on the subject covering how long it takes to walk to amenities was also associated with one percent lower risks of death due to CVD, major CVDs and heart attack.
Dr. Li added: “While some of the percentage reductions in risk are small, they affect large numbers of people and therefore could have a wide-ranging impact.
“The findings can be used by policymakers to take action to mitigate the adverse effect of poor community conditions on health, such as improving local amenities and transport connectivity, providing green spaces and street lighting, and building paths for walking, running and cycling.”
The findings were due to be presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Amsterdam.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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