Thursday, October 10, 2013

Get Friendly With Your Neighbors, Avoid Stroke

Social cohesion may help prevent stroke.
Social cohesion may help prevent stroke.
Image: Shutterstock
A new study published in Social Science & Medicine puts one more item on the list of things that could dictate the state of your health: your neighborly bonds. According to the study, having high neighborhood social cohesion reduces the risk of stroke by a whopping 48%.

Eric Kim, out of the University of Michigan, led the study. He reports that “In our statistical models, this effect was approximately equivalent to people who were current smokers versus never smokers.”

“Our research suggests that perceived neighborhood social cohesion shows a protective effect above and beyond traditional stroke risk factors, psychological factors, and individual-level social engagement,” Kim added.

The study surveyed 6,740 people over the age of 50, asking them questions like “Are your neighbors friendly?” and “Do you feel like you are a part of the community?” After the initial survey, the participants’ health was tracked for the next four years. Two hundred and sixty-five of the 6,740 participants had strokes, and those who were in neighborhoods with the lowest social cohesion were far more at risk. 

“Research in the last three decades has shown that negative neighborhood factors such as neighborhood violence, noise, traffic, low neighborhood socioeconomic status, and poor air quality increase the risk of poor health. Fewer studies have examined the potential protective effect that neighborhood factors can have on health, particularly stroke,” the abstract of the study reads.

So, how about it? Do you get along with your neighbors? Do you even know your neighbors? Could you call on them in an emergency? Would you invite them to a barbecue? Let’s get on with the neighborly love!