American Heart Association, Nov. 13-17

The American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2020

The annual meeting of the American Heart Association was held virtually this year from Nov. 13 to 17 and attracted participants from around the world, including cardiovascular specialists, surgeons, and nurses as well as other health care professionals. The conference featured presentations focusing on the latest advances in cardiovascular medicine and surgery.

In a cross-sectional study, William Aitken, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and colleagues found that increased greenness and better air quality are associated with decreased cardiovascular disease mortality.

The authors evaluated whether environmental greenness or vegetative presence such as trees is related to cardiovascular disease mortality and weighed the effect greenness may have on the relationship between air quality and cardiovascular disease mortality. The authors used linear regression modeling to estimate the relationship between air pollution (measured in particulate matter 2.5), greenness (measured in normalized vegetation index), and cardiovascular disease mortality (at the county level), while controlling for sociodemographic variables (such as race, education, and income). The researchers found that increased greenness and air quality reduced cardiovascular disease mortality.

“We also found that environmental greenness mediates, or serves as an important intervening variable, in explaining the air quality-to-cardiovascular disease mortality relationship,” Aitken said. “Environmental interventions to increase greenness and reduce air pollution may reduce excess cardiovascular disease mortality.”

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In another study, Neil Kelly, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and colleagues found that healthy lifestyle behaviors, including a Mediterranean diet, physical activity, smoking abstinence, and sedentary avoidance, are each individually and cumulatively associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality regardless of medication burden.

Using data from a prospective, longitudinal cohort study, the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, the authors examined approximately 20,000 U.S. adults (average age, 65 years) to understand the link between lifestyle behaviors and mortality. The researchers evaluated patterns of the Mediterranean diet, physical activity, smoking, and time spent watching television (sedentary time) among three specific groups based on medication burden: no polypharmacy (take fewer than five medications), polypharmacy (take five to nine medications), and hyper-polypharmacy (take at least 10 medications). The researchers found that increased adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with lower all-cause mortality, regardless of medication burden.

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