Loud noise can be a source of stress and annoyance. Noise from construction sites and loud music from a neighboring house can be irritating and even make sleeping difficult especially at night.
Findings of a new study now reveal that noise pollution may have more serious effects. Researchers found evidence suggesting that noise may also be linked to increased risk of heart disease.
Noise Affects People And Animals
Thomas Münzel from the University Medical Center Mainz Center of Cardiology, and colleagues looked at earlier studies and years of data to find out if there is a link between noise and cardiovascular health.
They found that people exposed to frequent loud noise tend to have higher rates of heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. They also found that animals can also suffer from the ill effects of noise pollution.
"Transcriptome analysis of aortic tissues from animals exposed to aircraft noise revealed changes in the expression of genes responsible for the regulation of vascular function, vascular remodeling, and cell death," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology.
Dangerous Levels Of Noise
The researchers said that noise above 60 decibels can increase odds for heart disease. Examples of noises that are around 60 decibels include the noise produced by an air conditioning unit and a conversation at the office. Noise produced by a jackhammer is around 100 decibels and the noise of an airplane taking off is around 120 decibels.
How Noise Pollution Increases Risk For Heart Disease
Münzel and colleagues think that noise pollution can set off a surge in stress hormones, which can harm the heart arteries and the rest of the body. Lack of sleep, which can happen to people exposed to noise, has long been known to increase cardiovascular risk.
Noise Pollution As Risk Factor Of Heart Disease
Based on their findings, the researchers said that noise pollution needs to be considered as a risk factor of heart disease just like obesity and high cholesterol. Münzel added that for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, exposure to noise pollution can amplify the risk.
The findings should prompt those regularly exposed to loud noises to take precautions, which include wearing noise-cancelling headphones. The researchers also said that new measures should be adopted to protect the public from the hazards of noise pollution.
"As the percentage of the population exposed to detrimental levels of transportation noise are rising, new developments and legislation to reduce noise are important for public health," Münzel said.