A study published in PLoS ONE followed over 50,000 participants (50-64 years of age) in Denmark over a period of 10 years. During this time, there were 1,600 heart attack cases. Participants were exposed to varying levels of road noise ranging from 42 to 84 decibels. Participants that lived closest to the noisiest locations (being exposed to 60 dB of road noise), had higher body mass index (BMI), lower education levels, smoked more, ate less fruits and vegetables, were less active and had an increased prevalence of diabetes compared to participants that lived in quieter areas. When looking at the participants that suffered a heart attack it was found that they were exposed to more traffic noise and air pollution. Additionally, they were heavier, smoked and drank more, had higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels and had a higher prevalence of diabetes. Being exposed to 10dB higher road noise was found to be associated with a 12% increased risk of heart attack, which shows a dose-response relationship. With increased levels of urbanization, communities will continue to be developed closer and closer to busy roads. It is vital that individuals keep this current research in mind when purchasing a home in an effort to make the best decision for their health.
There are a number of heart attack prevention tips that you can follow to minimize your risk of suffering a heart attack. Strategies for heart attack prevention include:
1. Eating a healthy diet – following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) will help with heart attack prevention. The DASH diet involves eating foods that are low in saturated fats, cholesterol and salt. Incorporating ample fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy will help to protect your heart. Additionally, adding omega-3 fatty acids into your diet may help to reduce the risk of a heart attack. Salmon, mackerel, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soy bean oil, and canola oil are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Lastly, alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
2. Exercising regularly – exercising 30 minutes a day multiple days of the week will help to prevent a heart attack. It reduces your chance of developing risk factors for heart attack including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and stress.
3. Quitting smoking – smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, including heart attack. When you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops drastically within one year.
4. Maintaining a healthy weight – increased body weight can increase stress on your heart and can increase your chance of suffering from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which are significant risk factors for heart disease, including heart attack. Losing 10% of your body weight can decrease your risk of developing one of these conditions and can help with heart attack prevention.
5. Visiting your doctor regularly – you may be suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes and not know it because you don’t have any symptoms. Being symptom free does not mean that you are healthy. Seeing your doctor regularly will ensure that risk factors for heart disease are diagnosed and treated early to minimize your risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack.
Having a heart attack can be a life changing event and can possibly be fatal. Following the heart attack prevention strategies above will help to minimize your risk of having one. Also, while it may seem drastic, based on the results of this recent study, you may want to consider moving if you live close to a noisy highway in an effort to decrease your chance of suffering from a heart attack.