Heart disease can be induced by frequent exposure to high-decibel sounds such as traffic noise, according to a new study. These noises are the type that you hear every day and range from the honking of horns and planes taking off to loud conversations and music. A study published in The American College of Cardiology claims that these noises can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health.
Previous studies on the impact of environmental noise on human health associated it with several health-related issues. These include metabolic dysfunction and oxidative stress, which affects our bodies ability to detoxify. Noise also impacts the functioning of our blood vessels, resulting in vascular dysfunction and causing autonomic imbalance.
Researchers in Denmark and Germany not only looked at previous studies on the topic but took their research one step further by focusing on the impact of noise on the autonomic nervous system. They observed that previous studies linked traffic noise with an increased risk of heart disease, but provided no explanation on how noise affects heart health
To establish this link, researchers analyzed data on people and animals that were exposed to frequent loud noises in their environment. Analysis of data gathered over several years revealed that the rate of heart failure was higher when exposure to loud noises was more frequent.
Researchers explained that noise pollution leads to a stress response that causes the sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones. Increases in stress hormones can eventually damage the arteries of the heart and the rest of the body. It may also lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as irregular heart rhythms. All of these are risk factors for heart disease.
Steps to mitigate the risk
While acknowledging that there is more than one cardiovascular risk factor, Dr. Thomas Munzel at the University Medical Center Mainz Center of Cardiology claims that noise pollution is one of those factors alongside obesity and high cholesterol. When a person already has risk factors for heart disease, exposure to loud noises only increases this risk. According to Munzel, noise exposure is a significant factor as greater numbers of people are being exposed to transportation noises. It is important that governments regulate noise levels by enforcing the World Health Organization’s noise limits.