Traffic noise linked to heart attack risk: study

According to a recently published population-based study from Rutgers University, people living in neighborhoods with constant traffic noise have a higher risk of being hospitalized for a heart attack than those living in urban areas. quieter area.

According to the researchers, the paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in March, is one of the first to look specifically at North American data, with results consistent with that of the American College of Cardiology. Previous European studies have documented similar associations between the heart. disease and traffic noise pollution.

Dr Abel Moreyra, professor of medicine at Rutgers University and lead author of the study, said: “As cardiologists, we often think about many traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, and high blood pressure. or diabetes.

“This study and others suggest that maybe we should start thinking about air pollution and noise pollution as additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

Many studies have looked at the health effects of environmental hazards, including noise pollution, with previous research linking it to hearing loss, sleep disturbances, chronic stress and high blood pressure. . Previous studies have also shown how air pollution from car exhaust, for example, is linked to higher rates of heart disease and cardiovascular damage.

For this particular study, Moreyra and his team looked at the heart attack rates of 15,846 New Jersey residents who were hospitalized in 2018 for heart attacks. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, with about 1,200 people per square mile, many of whom live near major roads, railroads, and airports.

The researchers found that 5% of all heart attack hospital admissions, or one in 20, were linked to exposure to loud noise levels. The researchers calculated that the heart attack rate for people living in areas more exposed to loud traffic noise was 72 percent higher.

The rate of heart attack among those exposed to an average noise level of 65 decibels or higher was 3336.5 per 100,000 people, while those exposed to an average noise level below 45 decibels had a rate of 1938. 100,000.

According to Yale University’s office of Environmental Health and Safety, city traffic is measured at around 85 decibels.

The numbers in the study were drawn from a statewide database that tracks cardiovascular hospital admissions. Noise pollution levels from airplanes, trains and road traffic were also measured using data from the New Jersey Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The researchers then looked at where the patients lived, converting their locations to latitude and longitude coordinates to gauge noise levels in their area.

The study did not look at the biological reasons behind this association, but Moreyra said chronic stress, sleep disturbances, and anxiety, which have been noted in other studies, could have adverse effects. beneficial to heart health. For example, chronic stress can cause hormonal changes that lead to inflammation and affect blood vessels, the researchers say.

This particular study did not consider demographic, socioeconomic, or other risk factors such as noise levels in the workplace. However, the authors say additional research will provide more insight into discerning the effects of these different factors.

“Five percent of all [myocardial infarctions] Hospitalizations due to high noise levels highlight the importance of exposure, and these findings underscore the importance of stricter noise regulations and enforcement by traffic authorities. transportation,” the authors conclude.

Moreyra says policy interventions, from better soundproofing buildings to better enforcement of noise regulations, can help reduce the noise levels residents are exposed to.

Moreyra said in an interview with CTV New Channel on Tuesday: “More attention needs to be paid to building barriers between housing and highways.

He said airport landing and take-off rules and schedules should also be reviewed to minimize disturbances at night, while tire manufacturers could consider developing reduced tires. sound” to reduce the noise caused by friction between the tire and the road surface. . ”

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