Monday, December 31, 2012

Is There A Link Between Heart Attack And Loud Traffic?

Residents in the United States are not so concerned about noise levels as compared with those in Europe. Noise pollution is generally not recognized as a health hazard.
However, previous studies had shown that exposure to high noise levels can cause high blood pressure and there are evidences showing link between noise pollution and heart attack risk. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they are exposing to noise pollution.
A study from Denmark has recently found that the louder the traffic near people’s homes, the higher their risk of getting a heart attack. In a paper published on June 20, 2012 in the journal ‘PLoS ONE’, researchers from the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark reported that for every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic noise, the risk of heart attack increased 12 percent. They also estimated that traffic noise accounts for 4 percent of all heart attacks in Denmark.
In fact, traffic noise during the night is especially harmful since it affects sleep. Nevertheless, anytime one is exposed to high levels of noise, his or her concentrations of stress hormones in the body are increased, hence raising heart attack risk.
The study was based on a population of 57,053 people aged 50 to 64 years at enrolment between 1993 and 1997. A total of 1,600 cases of first-ever heart attack were identified between enrolment and 2006.
Participants were asked to report where they lived and whether they had ever had a heart attack, along with other information, including their diets and physical activity habits. Factors that could affect participants' risk of heart attack, such as gender, smoking, fruit and vegetable intake, and body mass index (BMI), were also taken into account.
Researchers believed their study is one of the first to show an incremental correlation between raising noise and higher risk. While previous study have suggested that risk increased at noise levels higher than 60 decibels, the new study showed that risk increased between 40 and 80 decibels.
Current legislation requires hearing protection when noise level reaches 85 decibels and above. But 10 decibels of noise is sufficient to interrupt a conversation.
While noise pollution tends to be higher in cities, it is possible to live very quietly in a city but very noisily in a rural area if it is near highways. In order not to affect sleep, it is recommended that people should choose a room with a low exposure to traffic noise, and if this is impossible, it is better to insulate the house against noise.

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