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The Highway Really Is Raising Your Blood Pressure

Is building housing developments near major roadways a bad public health practice?
Living near a highway might put you at greater risk of hypertension.
Living near a highway might put you at greater risk of hypertension.Almaran / Shutterstock.com

People may heart New York, but cities in general are hard on the ol' ticker. As previously reported by CityLab, exposure to traffic noise may increase rates of hypertension. Living near a foreclosed home could increase your risk of heart attack, too. Now, another heart-health risk factor has been added to the list: living close to major roadways.

New research from the Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that those living adjacent to large roadways may be at greater risk to develop high blood pressure. Among 5,400 San Diego women, high rates of systolic blood pressure were 9 percent more frequent among those living 100 meters or less from freeways, freeway ramps, and major arterial roads compared to those living 1,000 meters or farther. Given that one-third of American adults are estimated to suffer from high blood pressure, these results could have important urban planning implications. Could a move to build residences away from major roadways, for example, improve public health? (Even though that convenience factor might be what brought you to the city in the first place?)