Happy Earth Day! Here’s Why it Matters for Heart Disease

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

How does this relate to heart disease? It turns out that the environment plays a large role in heart disease risks. Studies have shown that there is a clear link between air pollution and various health conditions, with children being particularly susceptible to harm.

In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), pollution is the cause of one-third of all deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease across the globe. It’s even been estimated that air pollution is responsible for shortening people’s lives worldwide on a far greater scale than wars and other forms of violence, as well as diseases related to malaria, HIV/AIDS and smoking, according to a March 2020 study published in Cardiovascular Research.

Professors Jos Lelieveld and Thomas Münzel, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Centre Mainz in Mainz, Germany, who led the research, say the findings suggest the world is facing an air pollution “pandemic”.  Using a new method of modelling the effects of various sources of air pollution on death rates, the researchers estimated that air pollution caused an extra 8.8 million premature deaths around the globe in 2015. This represents an average shortening of life expectancy of nearly three years for all persons worldwide.

3 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day in Quarantine

Looking for some ways to celebrate Earth Day while stuck in quarantine? Here are three safe ideas that can help get you active and moving, as well as help out the environment:

  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood and pick up trash. If you’re looking for a break from the quarantine, get off the couch and go for a walk around your neighborhood. You’ll burn calories, get some fresh air, and help out the environment. Remember to bring a trash bag with you so you can conveniently stop and pick up any litter you find along the way!
  • Plant a tree or start a garden in your yard. Not only do trees help create clean air for the environment, but did you know that planting and tending trees and flowers can also help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and reduce stress? Taking care of plants can have many benefits that go beyond helping the environment.
  • Watch an eco-show or documentary. Stuck inside and can’t go anywhere? Make the most of your Earth Day by binge-watching some great environmental shows and documentaries on TV and Netflix.