April 20, 2024
Google Street View Analysis Reveals Connections Between the Built Environment and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Google Street View Analysis Reveals Connections Between the Built Environment and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

In a groundbreaking study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers at the University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and Case Western Reserve University in the U.S. have utilized Google Street View to analyze how various elements of the built environment impact the risk of cardiovascular diseases, particularly coronary heart disease.

By examining hundreds of factors such as buildings, green spaces, pavements, and roads in cities across the U.S., the researchers were able to predict 63% of the variation in the risk of coronary heart disease from one neighborhood to another. These findings shed light on the significant influence of the built environment on cardiovascular health and underscore the importance of urban planning in creating healthier living spaces.

The lead researchers, Prof. Sadeer Al-Kindi and Prof. Sanjay Rajagopalan, alongside Dr. Zhuo Chen, employed a machine vision-based approach, including a convolutional neural network, to analyze more than half a million Google Street View images from cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Denver. By using artificial intelligence to recognize patterns in these images, the researchers identified key features of the built environment that were associated with either increased or decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

Attention mapping, another analytical technique utilized in the study, highlighted specific areas in the images that played a crucial role in determining cardiovascular risk. For example, green spaces and walkable roads were linked to lower risks, while poorly maintained roads were correlated with higher risks. These insights offer valuable implications for future urban planning initiatives aimed at promoting heart-healthy environments.

Dr. Rohan Khera from Yale University School of Medicine, in an editorial accompanying the study, emphasized the importance of understanding how residential locations impact health outcomes. He applauded the researchers for their innovative approach in utilizing Google Street View imagery to comprehensively evaluate the built environment and its relation to cardiovascular health.

Dr. Khera further underscored the significance of leveraging artificial intelligence to decode the visual cues embedded in our neighborhoods, stressing the need to prioritize vulnerable communities and improve cardiovascular health where it is most needed.

As the world faces challenges like climate change and rapid urbanization, the study’s findings offer a pioneering approach to examining the intricate connections between the built environment and cardiovascular disease risk. By harnessing the power of technology and data analysis, researchers aim to pave the way for evidence-based urban planning strategies that prioritize the well-being of residents and create healthier, sustainable communities for the future.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it