Car horns, airplanes and other loud noises could increase risk for heart disease


Do you live near a busy road or airport? While the high levels of pollution may be a health concern, you should also beware of the noise, according to a report. 

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Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, to determine the link between noise pollution and cardiovascular disease.

To do so, they examined years of data and previous studies on pollution. They looked at people and animals that were exposed to frequent noise from construction, airplanes and traffic as well as their health outcomes. 

After analyzing the results, they found that noise is associated with oxidative stress, vascular damage, autonomic imbalance and metabolic abnormalities. Therefore, it can induce stress responses, activating the “fight or flight” nervous system.

>> Related: Short-term exposure to air pollution can lead to 20,000 extra deaths

They believe high and consistent exposure to lots of noise, even when you’re sleeping, can eventually lead to the development of heart disease risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes. “One can close his eyes but not his ears,” lead author Thomas Munzel told Time. 

The scientists said those in urban areas should think about the noise population around them. Furthermore, the problem could exacerbate as more people move to these populous locations. 

>> Related: Urban air pollution makes exercise useless for older people

While they did not note the volume threshold for heart disease risk, they said chronic exposure to anything above 60 decibels, which is the level of an typical conversation in the office, can be harmful. A telephone ring is about 80 decibels, a jackhammer produces about 100 and an airplane takeoff is 120.

Despite their findings, they think specific strategies, such as the traffic management and low-noise tires for cars, are a step in the right direction, and they are hopeful for even more advancements. 

>> Related: Satellite images show extent of air pollution worldwide

"As the percentage of the population exposed to detrimental levels of transportation noise are rising,” authors said, “new developments and legislation to reduce noise are important for public health."


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