High blood pressure affects more than 100 million adults in America. The usual culprits are diet and inactivity—but maybe you’ve heard enough of all that noise. Or perhaps you’ve heard so much noise that it, too, is raising your blood pressure.
A new study published in PLOS One has found a close correlation between noise exposure and high blood pressure. Previous studies have shown similar results, indicating that perhaps your occupation and place of residence could have a profound effect on overall heart health.
The latest study looked at over 21,403 workers who experienced occupational noise exposure for an average of 40-years. Occupations would have included jobs like construction, factory work, or other jobs that regularly expose workers to mild or high levels of noise, often leading to some degree hearing loss. The researchers found that mild noise exposure was associated with a 34% increase in risk for hypertension, while high exposure could boost risk by 281%.
Other studies have shown that noise can influence blood pressure even if it’s not a result of constant exposure on the job. A 2017 study found that people who live close to a highway—which may only provide ambient noise in the background—was also associated with high blood pressure. It’s unknown if this had to do with increased exposure to pollutants or the noise was an influencing factor.
If you’ve ever been exposed to constant noise—like living next to a construction site or working on one—it can be highly stressful. The sounds of machinery, hammers, and moving earth can be stressful, which perhaps influences the effect on heart health. Background noise can make it difficult to focus, relax or concentrate, which can help promote stress and anxiety. Although there are conflicting study results regarding the effect of noise on heart health, it does seem to be an influential factor.
So, what are you supposed to do? Well, this is where diet and lifestyle can come into play. If you’re able to do your best in the areas you can control, some of the uncontrollable factors may have less of an effect. If you live in a noisy part of town, some home upgrades of lifestyle alterations may be in order.
Although expensive, double-or triple-paned windows can help reduce noise pollution, as can insulation and sealing your doors. When outdoors or doing yardwork like leaf-blowing, wear protective equipment like earmuffs or earplugs.
Limiting noise exposure could protect heart health. Do you best to limit the impact of noise to reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk for heart attack.