REGARDS Project: Using high-resolution satellite data to evaluate linkages
between blood pressure, land cover/land use, and temperature

A national cohort study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health

With urbanization, an increase of hypertension has been observed. High blood pressure is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Research studies in Africa that have compared blood pressure rates among persons living in rural, semi-urban, and urban locations are showing a correlation between urban dwellers and elevated blood pressure (Agyemang et al 2005), (Van Rooyen 2000), (Opie 2005), (Schutte 2004), (Seedat 2005), (Cooper 2003). Few studies in the United States have examined regional and urbanization differences in hypertension (Obisesan 1999), (Gillum 1996). Our proposal is to examine the relationship between living environment defined as urban, suburban, and rural and day/night (maximum versus minimum) land surface temperature with blood pressure in selected regions from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort.


Metropolitan Study Areas
Three geographically and climatologically distinct regions that include major urban centers and that have varying stroke rates are proposed for this study. These regions will include a southeastern region centered on Atlanta, Georgia; a northeastern region centered on Philadelphia, PA; and a Midwestern region centered on Minneapolis, MN. Regarding stroke incidence, the Atlanta area is high, the Minneapolis area low, and the Philadelphia area a transitional zone. General land use configurations are similar; however, significant differences in vegetation exist among the regions. Regions will be approximately 100 km x 100 km which will allow for significant populations in rural, suburban, and urban locations to be evaluated.

Distribution of Urban, Suburban, and Rural Living Environments

The relationships explored herein will examine the correlation between blood pressure and location of residence defined as urban, suburban, and rural and the linkage between temperature and blood pressure using land surface temperature at a fine grid resolution of 1-kilometer. The development of a methodology to delineate LCLU classes into rural, suburban, and urban regions should also benefit future research relating to the impact of urbanization on public health.

Leslie McClure
George Howard
Maury Estes
Dale Quattrochi
Mohammad Al-Hamdan
Bill Crosson

Presentations & Publications

Using Remotely Sensed Data and GIS Tools to Characterize Living Environments for Evaluation with Blood Pressure Data abstact

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