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Respected neighbours are good for your heart

People with good neighbours and strong community ties are less likely to suffer heart attacks, new research suggests.

Researchers tracked the health of more than 5,000 American adults over the age of 50 with no known heart problems over four years from 2006.

At the start of the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, participants were asked to describe how much they were part of their neighbourhood.

The "perceived neighbourhood social cohesion" survey saw participants answer questions on a seven-point scale about their neighbours and community.


They were asked how much they felt part of their neighbourhood, whether there would be lots of people to help them if they were ever in trouble, how much they trusted people in their area and how friendly their neighbours were.

Of the 5,276 people studied, 148 had heart attacks during the four-year follow up period.

After taking into account other contributing factors, researchers found people have a reduced risk of heart attack if they responded positively to the questions.

On the seven-point scale, each point increase in perceived neighbourhood social cohesion was associated with a 17pc reduced risk of a heart attack.

The authors called for more research, but said previous studies have linked better social support to improved health.