, Volume 80, Issue 4, pp 569-589

Residential environments and cardiovascular risk

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Abstract

The article begins with a discussion of the rationale for studying the relationship between residential environments and cardiovascular health. Existing empirical research relating residential environments to cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors is summarized. The research areas discussed include neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and cardiovascular disease, the effects of residential environments on physical activity, and the effects of residential environments on diet. Other mechanisms through which residential environments may affect cardiovascular health are also briefly noted. Key challenges in investigating the relationship between residential environments and health are discussed. These challenges include characterizing environments (including definition and geographic scale as well as conceptualization and measurement of relavant features), the limitations of observational studies, and the need to evaluate the health impact of interventions or “naturally” occurring changes in local environments. The need for interdisciplinary work is emphasized.

This work was supported in part by MD00206P60, Columbia Center for the Health of Urban Minorities.