Women's Heart Advisor January 2015 Issue

Living Near a Major Road Raises Hypertension

Get your blood pressure checked soon to help address the threat.

People who live within 330 feet or so of a freeway or heavily trafficked road are 22 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than someone who lives 10 times farther away.

Photo: Thinkstock

This finding comes from the Women’s Health Initiative, which included 5,401 postmenopausal women in the San Diego area. More than 40 percent had hypertension. The closer they lived to a major roadway, the more likely they were to have the disease—regardless of whether they were overweight.

Although this study from the Journal of the American Heart Association did not examine possible causes, the authors suspect the combination of traffic-related pollution and noise pollution may be to blame.

So if your home is close to a busy road, how can you protect your health? Start by making an appointment with your doctor to measure your blood pressure.

“If you do have hypertension, your doctor will start you on blood pressure medications right away and talk with you about some lifestyle changes that may be beneficial, such as limiting salt intake,” says Leslie Cho, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic. “The advice would be the same for anyone with hypertension, regardless of the cause.”

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