Liking Your Neighbors Could Help Prevent You From Having a Stroke
Sarah Goodyear | The Atlantic Cities | September 19, 2013 | link
When it comes to preventing a stroke, living in a neighborhood where you have strong social ties and feel comfortable may be as important as not smoking.
That’s the dramatic finding in a new study from University of Michigan researchers, who analyzed data from the Health and Retirement study, a nationwide biennial survey that has been ongoing since 1992. A total of nearly 7,000 individuals from communities around the country were included in the stroke study; none of them had had a stroke when the data collection began. The researchers then looked at how an individual’s incidence of stroke correlated with his or her “perceived neighborhood cohesion.”
The data showed that people who felt connected to their neighbors had significantly fewer strokes than those who felt alienated. When researchers compared respondents who reported the highest neighborhood cohesion to those who reported the lowest connection, there was a 48 percent difference in the number of people who had a first stroke and those who didn’t. The results were then adjusted to account for other known risk factors.
“It’s the same difference as between a current smoker and someone who never smoked,” says Eric Kim, the lead author on the paper published in the journal Social Science and Medicine. “I was personally surprised.” His group’s findings reinforced an earlier study that showed greatly reduced risk of stroke mortality among people living in cohesive neighborhoods.