Neighborhoods and cardiovascular risk: Beyond individual-level risk factors
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- Diez Roux, A.V., Kershaw, K. & Lisabeth, L. Curr Cardio Risk Rep (2008) 2: 175. doi:10.1007/s12170-008-0033-0
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Efforts to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease have traditionally focused on individual-level risk factors. However, recent work has highlighted the role of residential environments in shaping the distribution of cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors. Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods has been associated with greater cardiovascular disease risk even after accounting for personal measures of socioeconomic status. Current research efforts focus on identifying the specific features of the physical and social environments of neighborhoods that are most relevant. Physical environments include the walking and recreational environments (features of urban design and availability of recreational resources) and the local food environment (availability of healthy foods and advertising). Physical features of neighborhoods have been shown to be related to health behaviors and other cardiovascular risk factors. Features of the social environment (such as social norms, neighborhood sources of stress, and social cohesion) have been less well studied. Additional work is needed to identify the most effective neighborhood-level interventions to improve cardiovascular health.