Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Degree Program

Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Environmental Health, PhD

Committee Chair

Tollerud, David

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bhatnagar, Aruni

Committee Member

Bhatnagar, Aruni

Committee Member

Jacobs, Robert

Committee Member

Baumgartner, Kathy

Committee Member

Liu, Gilbert

Committee Member

Wilson, Jeffrey

Author's Keywords

GIS; CVD; vegetation; greenness


The built environment affects numerous aspects of human health and wellbeing, including risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both the U.S. and worldwide. The amount and quality of environmental vegetation, is an important aspect of the built environment that affects known CVD risk factors, including psychosocial stress, health behaviors, and exposure to air pollutants. Nevertheless, little evidence on the role of potential mechanisms and geographic scale in these relationships exists. Of previous studies that describe associations between vegetation and CVD outcomes, limited investigation has been performed to assess these observed relationships in differing urban environments. It also remains unclear how environmental vegetation may affect biological processes that affect CVD risk, prevalence, and outcomes. This dissertation investigates relationships between environmental vegetation and possible associations with aspects of CVD risk among residents. The first chapter describes CVD risks, vegetation, and relationships therein. The second chapter describes the association between environmental vegetation and CVD hospital admissions at the zip code level. The third chapter assesses relationships between residential area vegetation and metabolites of harmful VOCs, benzene and acrolein, among participants in the Louisville Healthy Heart Study. The fourth chapter examines relationships between residential vegetation and circulating angiogenic cells among participants in the Louisville Healthy Heart Study. The fifth and final chapter reviews findings of previous chapters and describes potential future investigations into links between vegetation and cardiovascular health. Results of this work contribute to existing literature on the relationships between vegetation and human health, which may be useful in the development of future studies.